The Danger of Disney’s Hostile Billionaire, Nelson Peltz

The Danger of Nelson Peltz
Credit: CNBC News Report/Disney

For months, Disney CEO Bob Iger has been fighting battles on multiple fronts — it seems like he just can’t catch a break. Iger stepped down as CEO in February 2020 and handed the reins to the Disney Parks Chairman, Bob Chapek. Chapek was in the position for less than three years before he was fired by Disney’s Board of Directors and Iger was brought back in. Unfortunately, when he came back, Disney appeared to be only a shell of the company it once was.

bob iger bob chapek

Credit: CBNC Interview

Related: Disney CEO, Bob Iger, Promises to Build “Modern Disney” Before He Exits the Company

It’s been less than two years since Iger came back, but he has consistently worked diligently to appease cast members, theme park guests, fans, and shareholders. That has proven to be a nearly impossibly task. Cast members are still fighting for higher wages and unions. Theme park guests want more for their money. Fans want Disney to create movies that will make them flock to the theaters. And shareholders want the company’s value to increase so they can get higher dividends.

ValueAct backs Bob Iger in Nelson Peltz fight

Credit: Apple TV+

And there are some who have had enough of Bob Iger and the way he is running the Mouse House. And they are looking for more power within the company.

The leader behind the chase for control over Disney’s Board of Directors is billionaire Nelson Peltz — the founder of Trian Fund Management. Peltz and Trian Partners hold millions of shares in Disney, most of them technically owned by Ike Perlmutter, a former Marvel Executive. Perlmutter was fired by Disney, and reportedly holds a grudge. Disney is contending that Peltz is trying to get on Disney’s Board of Directors so he can do Peltz’s bidding.

Ike perlmutter and marvel logo

Credit: LinkedIn/Marvel

Related: Billionaire Using Disney’s Struggling Brand Reputation For Hostile Takeover

But that is only one of the reasons that Peltz would be absolutely terrible for The Walt Disney Company.

In recent months, Peltz has given a lot of interviews, and spoken at length about the financial health of Disney. Now, it’s no secret that Peltz is incredibly smart when it comes to running a company. But unlike hedge funds, Disney is so much more than just making money. Disney is cast members, Disney is guests, Disney is entertainment. And that is just something that Peltz does not get.

nelson peltz

Credit: Flickr @Milken Institute

Mr. Peltz appears to be a lot like former CEO Bob Chapek when it comes to his ideas about how to run Disney. He thinks of it as solely being about dollars and signs. The people don’t really seem to matter to Peltz or Jay Rasulo — the former CFO of Disney who Peltz is also trying to get on the board. And while yes, the point of a business is to make money, Disney is not a company that can make money without the cast members and fans supporting it.

Guests are constantly complaining about the cost of a Disney vacation, the quality of the merchandise, and the cost of the food at the parks. They say that prices are going up and quality is going down. However, Peltz never mentions how he can make things better for guests. He never talks about improving the Disney experience.

Guest arrested Magic Kingdom Sudden Snatching

Credit: Disney

His focus is on shareholders, and how they can make more money. That typically involves cutting costs and raising prices. If Disney continues in that direction, guest satisfaction with the company will continue to decrease. That will lead to them wanting to spend less money, and the company’s standing will also go down. Eventually, that will lead to a lower stock price.

Then, we have to account for the direction Disney is going in with its newest films and television shows. Over the past few years, Disney has worked very hard to make cast members, guests, and fans feel represented and seen. That means that their productions feature more diversity — different kinds of families, different kinds of lifestyles, and different kinds of relationships. Disney has also said that it will continue to make movies that represent the world as it is today.

Baymax Series

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Lands Huge Blow as Billionaire Investor Attempts Hostile Takeover

Based on recent comments, Mr. Peltz (and reportedly Mr. Perlmutter), appears to have a big problem with diversity in Disney movies and television shows. He complained about the fact that Marvel has had films with an all-black cast (Black Panther) and an all-female cast (The Marvels). He questioned why Disney and Marvel felt the need to have those kinds of casts. Of course, he has never said anything about Marvel films having predominantly white casts.

Black Panther Chadwick Boseman

Credit: Marvel

On another note, Mr. Peltz has admitted that he is a “bully.” He has been accused of being a bully by a wedding planner he is currently suing. And he did not take offense to the name. In fact, he almost doubled-down and said that there are no billionaires out there who are not bullies. While that might be true, that does not mean that Disney needs someone on their board who will bully people to get their way.

April 3 is Disney’s Annual Shareholders meeting. During that time, we should learn whether Mr. Peltz has been successful in his quest to get on the Board of Directors. Peltz has received a lot more support than he did during his first takeover attempt. But Bob Iger has received just as much, if not more, support from Walt Disney’s family, Star Wars creator, George Lucas, and former Disney CEO, Michael Eisner.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect the views of Disney Dining as a whole.

Do you think Nelson Peltz belongs on Disney’s Board of Directors? Let us know in the comments. 

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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