Last week, The Walt Disney Company made a startling announcement — Susan Arnold, the first Chairwoman of Disney’s Board of Directors, would be stepping down, and fellow board member, Mark Parker, would be taking her place. Parker was the former CEO of Nike. At the same time, Nelson Peltz — an activist investor who is CEO of the Trian Group — said that he wanted a seat on the Board of Directors. With Arnold stepping away and Parker taking her place, the board went from 12 members to 11.
What was most surprising about Peltz’s bid to grab a seat on Disney’s board was the fact that he seemed to think that the right way to go about it was by slamming Disney and its decisions. Peltz went on CNBC and spoke about how he didn’t support the return of Bob Iger as CEO, how Disney needs to become profitable in streaming ASAP or stop streaming altogether, and how he thinks that the FOX purchase was a terrible thing for Disney to do (which others don’t entirely disagree with).
Peltz has even started a website where people can go and see what he wants to do to change Disney, mainly focusing on making the company more money while cutting costs — a step eerily similar to the one Bob Chapek took when he came on as CEO. It didn’t work out well for him.
While Peltz has said that he does not want to remove Iger as CEO, Disney has made it clear that they don’t want Peltz anywhere near the decision-making. According to reports, Disney actually made a slideshow and said that Peltz simply doesn’t understand how a business like Disney works.
On Tuesday, Disney released a slideshow outlining its argument against Peltz, writing that the Trian Management CEO “does not understand Disney’s businesses, and lacks the skills and experience to assist the board in delivering shareholder value in a rapidly shifting media ecosystem.”
But Disney also acknowledged that some of the things Peltz is pushing for are already taking place, including implementing a cost-reduction plan and “streamlining our organizational structure to enhance productivity”; “prioritizing streaming profitability (in addition to revenue and subscriber growth)”; and “improving the guest experience” at its theme parks by providing “more value and flexibility.”
Disney also pushed back against Peltz’s critique of Bob Iger. Iger was CEO of Disney for 15 years (2005-2020), and the company absolutely soared under his leadership. The Board of Directors also said that, like 21st Century FOX, past acquisitions under Iger were deemed “too expensive”, but they ended up proving very profitable. During his first run as CEO, Iger was responsible for the acquisition of Marvel, LucasFilm, and Pixar.
Disney’s biggest issue with Mr. Peltz is the fact that he has never directly run a media company. In fact, Disney’s board pointed out that the “media-adjacent” company that Peltz is involved in has been lagging since he joined.
Mr. Peltz, for his part, is not backing down and continuing to fight for a seat on the board. He is planning on creating a “proxy fight”, where Disney shareholders vote by proxy about putting him on the board. At this time, we do not have any potential information on when this proxy seat vote will take place, but we will keep an eye out and keep readers updated as things progress.