Bob Iger will face yet another challenge as Disney (DIS) CEO — activist investor Nelson Peltz.
On Wednesday, Disney announced Nike executive chairman Mike Parker will take over Susan Arnold’s position as chairman of the board, and also recommended shareholders vote against Peltz in his efforts to win a seat on the company’s board.
“While senior leadership of The Walt Disney Company and its Board of Directors have engaged with Mr. Peltz numerous times over the last few months, the Board does not endorse the Trian Group nominee, and recommends that shareholders not support its nominee, and instead vote FOR all the Company’s nominees (noted above),” Disney wrote in a news release on Wednesday.
Peltz, who also has an activist campaign with Unilever and serves as chairman of Wendy’s, now plans to launch a proxy battle, according to The Wall Street Journal, appealing directly to Disney shareholders to win their support for a spot on the company’s board.
Peltz’s Trian Fund Management acquired an $800 million stake in Disney in November. The hedge fund, which disapproved of Iger’s surprise return, is reportedly pushing for additional cost cuts and a post-Iger successor — something the company wants as well.
Trian did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance’s request for comment.
“It is the top priority of mine and the Board’s to identify and prepare a successful CEO successor, and that process has already begun,” Parker said in Wednesday’s release.
Part of that process will be a newly created committee, chaired by Parker, which will update the board on succession plans, including review of internal and external candidates.
Disney also doubled down on the decision behind Iger’s surprise return, explaining in the release: “Mr. Iger’s mandate is to use his two-year term and depth of experience in the industry to adapt the business model for the shifting media landscape, rebalancing investment with revenue opportunity while bringing a renewed focus on the creative talent that has made The Walt Disney Company the envy of the industry.”
“Mr. Iger has already taken decisive steps to realign content creation and distribution, and reposition Disney’s streaming platforms and linear broadcast and cable networks for enhanced profitability for the Company,” the company continued.
In its statement on Wednesday, Disney also defended the company’s stock performance under Iger’s watch, noting during his first turn as CEO the company’s total shareholder return totaled 554%, topping the 244% total return realized by the S&P 500 over that period.
Disney faced a rough 2022 as shares slid about 45%, marking the worst annual stock performance for the House of Mouse since 1974.
Streaming profitability, the future of Hulu, and a possible ESPN spin-off all hang in the balance as Iger continues to navigate a bruised business beset with leadership challenges, unfavorable price increases, and a direct-to-consumer division struggling to turn a profit.
Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Media Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at email@example.com
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