Activist Investor Nominates Two Disney Board Members, Including Himself


Activist investor Nelson Peltz nominated He and a former Walt Disney executive addressed the Walt Disney Company's board of directors on Thursday, continuing his battle with the entertainment giant over what he sees as a languishing stock price and mishandling of its leadership succession plan.

This is Mr. Peltz's second proxy battle with Disney in two years. Last year, he fought to join the board, saying he would cut costs, revamp Disney's streaming business and clean up succession planning. Mr. Peltz retired. their demands in February, when Disney launched a restructuring plan and made billions of dollars worth of cost cuts.

Peltz's investment firm, Trian Partners, has been working on the fight with Ike Perlmutter, former Marvel chairman and one of Disney's largest independent shareholders. In addition to himself, Peltz also nominated James Rasulo, who spent three decades at Disney, including as chief financial officer.

Disney said Peltz and Rasulo's nominations would be reviewed by a committee, which would make a recommendation on their proposed candidacy to the board.

“Disney has an experienced, diverse and highly qualified board of directors that focuses on the company's long-term performance, strategic growth initiatives including the continued transformation of its businesses, the succession planning process and increasing value for shareholders,” the company said in a statement.

The company's shares fluctuated in early trading following Mr. Peltz's action.

Disney has been preparing for a proxy battle with Mr. Peltz. In NovemberThe company added two powerful figures to its board: James P. Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, and Jeremy Darroch, who previously ran the British television company Sky.

Disney CEO Robert A. Iger stepped down from that role in 2020, but returned two years later, replacing his hand-picked successor, Bob Chapek, and now has a contract that expires at the end of 2026.

Iger said at the DealBook Summit in November that his return brought unexpected challenges. Some, he said, “were caused by decisions my predecessor made, others that are basically the result of an enormous amount of disruption in the world and in our business.”

The company has also said that “robust” succession planning is underway, with a search extending outside of Disney.

Rasulo left Disney in 2015 after a rival executive, Thomas O. Staggs, was promoted to chief operating officer, making Staggs the board's favorite candidate to succeed Iger. (Mr. Staggs resigned a year later, after the board and Mr. Iger doubted his ability to run the company.)

While at Disney, Mr. Rasulo was respected for his ability to accomplish difficult tasks, even if his personal style at times made him a feared figure. While serving as CFO, Rasulo aggressively pursued an extensive cost reduction initiative. Before that, he served as president of Disney's theme parks division, where he oversaw a billion-dollar redevelopment of the company's California Adventure park, opened Hong Kong Disneyland and laid the foundation for a complex new management system. of visitors at Walt Disney World. He joined the company in 1986.

Rasulo said in an interview that he had no interest in returning to any management position at the company and was focused solely on being a director.

“We can ask the right questions in the boardroom,” Rasulo said. “We can right a ship that I really like.”

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