Walt Disney has been under pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, CEO of Trian Partners, to shake things up, and now Peltz is looking to take more of a direct hand. Trian, a major shareholder in Disney, nominated Peltz and former Disney Chief Financial Officer James Rasulo to serve as directors on the company’s board.
The two will stand for election during Disney’s annual shareholder meeting in 2024.
Peltz had said last month that he would take his case directly to shareholders, and is seeking support from other disgruntled shareholders. It marks the latest problem for the House of Mouse. The company has dealt with several box office disappointments, including this last month’s deflated debut of animated film Wish, which comes on top of poor response to The Marvels. Disney+, which has merged with Hulu in a beta trial, continues to lose money, and the company is still trying to figure out what to do with ESPN. CEO Bob Iger himself unintentionally stirred up controversy by opening the door to the sale of assets like ABC and ESPN, prompting Allen Media Group, which owns Local Now and The Weather Channel, to make an unsolicited bid for the ABC Network and its cable channels.
“As Disney’s largest active shareholder, we can no longer sit idly by as the incumbent directors and their hand-picked replacements stand in the way of necessary change, and peers and competitors continue to outperform,” Peltz said in a statement. “In our view, Disney’s Board has failed to fulfill its essential responsibilities – overseeing the development of an effective strategy, planning for orderly succession, aligning executive pay with performance, and ensuring accountability for operational execution.”
Disney confirmed the nominations, but defended its long-term strategy.
“Disney has an experienced, diverse, and highly qualified Board that is focused on the long-term performance of the Company, strategic growth initiatives including the ongoing transformation of its businesses, the succession planning process, and increasing shareholder value,” the company said in a statement.
Disney pointed to Trian’s partnership with former Disney executive Isaac Perlmutter, whose shares in the company make up a large chunk of Trian’s stake. Disney fired Perlmutter earlier this year, and the company maintains that the former executive has a personal agenda against Iger.
Peltz, however, said Disney would benefit from a “fresh perspective.”
“The Disney I know and love has lost its way,” Rasulo added in the statement.