Activist investor Nelson Peltz launched a fight for a seat at Walt Disney on Thursday in a bid to save the entertainment giant from a “crisis” resulting from overspending on the streaming business, buying 21st Century Fox and failing succession planning composed.
The billionaire’s move is a serious challenge for Disney CEO Bob Iger, who recently came out of retirement to lead the company for a second time.
The fight would pit Peltz, known for his work at consumer companies, against Iger, one of Hollywood’s most popular executives.
Disney’s shares rose more than 3%, with some analysts citing Peltz’s past track record of driving change at companies. The stock is down 39% over the past year.
The dispute with Disney could be Peltz’s biggest proxy battle since a bitter battle for a seat on the board of Tide detergent maker P&G. During his more than three-year tenure on P&G’s board of directors, the company’s stock price rose nearly 80%.
Peltz’s Trian Fund Management filed Thursday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for his election as a director after Disney denied him a seat on the board.
“Investors would appreciate an added reassurance that past troubles will not repeat themselves,” Rosenblatt Securities said. “Peltz — with a history of changemaking at targets like P&G, (Kraft) Heinz, and Wendy’s — could provide a measure of that.”
Peltz — whose fund owns a 0.5% stake, or about $900 million, in Disney — said Thursday the media company should buy the rest of Hulu from Comcast or exit the streaming business.
Disney also needs to increase investment in its parks business, where it likely raised ticket prices “too much,” he said in a CNBC interview. It “is more than a media company, it’s a consumer company,” he said.
The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Iger has reversed some price increases in the parks division conducted under former CEO Bob Chapek and has begun his second term vowing to focus on cost cutting and profitability.
Analysts believe the executive Peltz says he doesn’t want to replace could be a major stumbling block in the activist’s plan.
“Iger is a popular CEO, not only at Disney and its employees, but also in Hollywood and in the stock market. Peltz might have a hard time gaining traction with this campaign,” said Ben Barringer, equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot.
During Iger’s first tenure, Disney made several key acquisitions, including Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, and 21st Century Fox, and its market cap grew fivefold
His second run is expected to focus on Disney+’s streaming business, which he helped build in 2019. The unit lost nearly $1.5 billion in the most recent quarter, more than double the year-ago figure. Disney projects that the business will become profitable in fiscal 2024.
The company was also pressured by Third Point’s Daniel Loeb to spin off cable sports channel ESPN, reshuffle its board of directors and buy Comcast’s stake in Hulu — which has about 46 million subscribers.
Investors will vote later this year on whether Peltz should sit on the company’s board of directors, pending a prior arrangement. Last year the annual general meeting took place on March 9th.
https://nypost.com/2023/01/12/nelson-peltz-set-to-clash-with-bob-iger-for-disney-board-seat/ Nelson Peltz is in dispute with Bob Iger for the Disney board seat