Bob Iger defeats activist investor Peltz in Disney proxy battle

by ian

Disney just ended what was a long-awaited and rather contentious battle for its future as a company.

For context, Disney has been in the midst of a proxy battle involving its board of directors. Disney has arguably underperformed as a company in recent years, with some investors pointing to a poor CEO succession plan and failing to soar in the streaming business. Some investors also argued that the company had lost its creative edge.

All of these concerns were raised by businessman and investor Nelson Peltz, one of the driving factors behind the war.

Peltz, a co-founding member of Trian Fund Management, made an official move to join Disney’s board in 2023 over these concerns. He lost that bid, and since then has started a proxy war with the company to try and elect members to its board that will carry out his vision for it.

Current Disney CEO Bob Iger previously commented on Peltz and his attempt to join the board in a 2023 interview.

But since late 2023, Peltz has engaged in another campaign. Alongside investment firm Blackwells Capital, Peltz sought to take five seats on the board to change the company’s direction.

What resulted was a multi-million-dollar bidding war between Peltz and the current company to win the hearts and trust of the shareholders. The fight even brought in some heavy hitters, like Star Wars creator George Lucas, who backed Iger and the current board.

Finally, on Wednesday of this week, Walt Disney shareholders spoke – and kept the status quo. They voted to keep all 12 of Disney’s current board members and backed Iger, squashing Peltz’s campaign.

Iger celebrated, saying that he is now back to focusing on “growth and value creation for our shareholders and creative excellence for our consumers.” Still, Disney has a lot to prove as it searches for another CEO to replace Iger, who had temporarily returned to the position after the chaotic tenure of former CEO Bob Chapek.

But Peltz also isn’t done with the company. Before the results were announced, Peltz said he and Trian will continue to monitor Disney regardless of the outcome. He added that his campaign was to get Disney back into “making great content and delighting consumers and … creating sustainable long-term value for all of us.”