In a long-simmering conflict with Disney CEO Bob Iger and the company’s management, a strong activist investor is intensifying his efforts to acquire two seats on the board.
The investment firm announced on Thursday that Trian Fund Management will put forward Jay Rasulo, a former chief financial officer of Disney, and its founder, Nelson Peltz, for election to the Disney board. This follows Trian’s November bid to resurrect his earlier this year campaign for seats on Disney’s board, which the media conglomerate rejected.
Disney has had a difficult year due to a startling number of failures, a drop in movie and television viewership, and significant losses in its streaming division. Peltz is hoping for a change of heart.
Peltz, the CEO of Trian, said in a statement, “As Disney’s largest active shareholder, we can no longer sit idly by as the incumbent directors and their hand-picked replacements stand in the way of necessary change, and peers and competitors continue to outperform.” “It is long overdue for the company to have a refreshed board led by shareholders, with directors who are accountable to the owners and focused and aligned.”
Disney stock increased 1.5% at midday on Wednesday.
Although it had previously resisted Peltz and Trian, the company stated it would consider the proposal.
In a statement in response to Trian’s nominations, Disney stated, “Disney has an experienced, diverse, and highly qualified Board.” “As part of its governance process, the Governance and Nominating Committee, which assesses director nominations, will review the proposed Trian nominees and make a recommendation to the Board.”
According to Trian, the Board’s “too close connection to a long-tenured CEO and too disconnected from shareholders’ interests” is what drives Disney’s performance.
The company added that although it accepts the appointment of former Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch and Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman as directors as a first step towards obtaining “objectivity” on Disney’s board, it is an inadequate one.
According to Trian, the following annual meeting will happen in the spring of 2024.
Disney shareholders welcomed CEO Bob Iger’s return to the company in 2022, but this year the company has struggled with declining linear TV revenues, box office disappointments, and cost-cutting measures.
The company’s streaming platform, Disney+, has lost a lot of money as it tries to adapt to the streaming era. In October, Disney increased the monthly cost of its ad-free streaming service to $13.99, but it maintained the $7.99 price of its advertising tier.
Disney lost streaming subscribers in the US and Canada in the most recent quarter, despite the company’s stated expectation that its streaming business will turn a profit by the end of the following year. Disney has made suggestions that it may step up efforts to prevent users from sharing passwords.
ESPN, Disney’s former cash cow, is seeing a decline in viewership, and pressure is mounting for Disney to expedite its shift to streaming.
Disney’s stock, which is currently trading at roughly $95 per share, has increased since falling to its lowest point in almost a decade in November. Although the stock has gained roughly 9% so far this year, it is still much below its recent highs.