Not long ago, Disney found itself in the thick of a proxy fight. What’s a proxy fight? Think of it like a corporate takeover: “a competitive struggle between two corporate factions for the proxy votes from shareholders needed to control a corporation.” This is never a pleasant thing and something corporations seek to avoid at all costs.
Activist investment firm, the Trian Fund, led by Nelson Peltz, decided they were unhappy with the direction Disney was headed. They also got a bit power hungry. They decided one of their own should be on the board of directors at The Walt Disney Company. Just One problem: Disney didn’t want them there. Not only do they not want them, they feel they are absolutely wrong for their company (they even sent a letter to investors on the topic).
Recently Disney appointed Mark Parker as Chairman of the Board, despite Nelson Peltz expressing interest in the spot (for himself or his son). After they were snubbed in favor of Parker, they amped up their efforts to at least secure a seat on the board.
The firm invested a $900 million stake in Disney and immediately began campaigning for a seat on the board. Trian said they aimed to reduce costs and improve operations and openly opposed Bob Iger’s return as CEO. Peltz also disagreed with the acquisition of FOX.
However, at yesterday’s first Quarterly Earnings call, CEO Bob Iger announced plans for a restructuring of the company. Following this Peltz has announced today that the proxy fight is officially over. “Now Disney plans to do everything we wanted them to do,” Peltz said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Thursday. “We wish the very best to Bob [Iger], this management team and the board. We will be watching. We will be rooting. The proxy fight is over.”
This whole thing seems to have been much ado about nothing. There was a lot of salary rattling and campaigning for ultimately nothing to come of it. Nothing on Iger’s announcement yesterday suggests his restructure plan had anything to do with Peltz. In fact, Iger announced restructuring plans when he re-assumed the role of Disney’s CEO. It is only that we have just now gotten details.of what that plan looks like. If Peltz wants to try and save face by bowing out because Disney “gave him what he wanted” though, more power to him…I guess.