Michael Eisner Backs Disney, Bob Iger in Proxy Fight With Activist Investors

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has joined the list of the House of Mouse’s supporters in its proxy fight against activist investors Trian Fund Management and Blackwells Capital.

In a statement on X, Eisner reflected on when the entertainment giant was “under attack by corporate raiders trying to take over the company” in 1983.

“That would have ended the Disney Company as we know it, for the studio, theme parks, and hotels were suggested to be sold off,” he said. “The board turned to me and Frank Wells, and a different story was written, one that was continued by Bob Iger and his executive team.”

He warned that a “similar situation” exists today and that “bringing in someone who doesn’t have experience in the company or the industry to disrupt Bob and his eventual successor is playing not only with fire but earthquakes and hurricanes as well.”

“The company is now in excellent hands and Disney shareholders should vote for the Disney slate,” Eisner’s statement concluded.

In addition to Eisner, Disney has received support from proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, Laurene Powell Jobs, activist investor ValueAct Capital, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, former Walt Disney Imagineering president Bob Weis and Walt Disney’s grandchildren.

Meanwhile, Trian has received backing from former Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, activist investor Ancora Holdings, over a dozen former and current public company directors that have worked with co-founder and Disney board nominee Nelson Peltz and proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services, which played an influential role in Roy E. Disney’s proxy campaign against Eisner that stripped him of his chairman role.

Trian has nominated Peltz and former Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo to stand election at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on April 3.

Meanwhile, Blackwells has nominated former Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal executive Jessica Schell, Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff and TaskRabbit founder Leah Solivan.

Disney’s board has rejected Trian and Blackwells’ nominees, arguing that they lack the “appropriate range of talent, skill, perspective and/or expertise to effectively support Disney’s building priorities in the face of continuing industry-wide challenges.” The board also slammed Peltz and Rasulo’s “track record of value destruction.”

Instead, it is urging shareholders to vote for its own slate of 12 nominees, including Iger, Mary Barra, Safra Catz, Amy Chang, Carolyn Everson, Michael Froman, Maria Elena, Lagomasino, Calvin McDonald, Mark Parker, Derica Rice and recent appointees James Gorman and Jeremy Darroch.

Shareholders of record as of the close of business on Feb. 5 will be entitled to vote at the meeting. Disney has approximately 1.8 billion outstanding shares, according to its latest proxy filing. Disney shares have climbed 22.5% in the past year, 28.2% year to date and 43% in the past six months.

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