Disney says Peltz ‘lacks skills’ to help business as proxy battle heats up

(Reuters) – Walt Disney (DIS.N) on Wednesday defended its decision to deny Nelson Peltz a seat on the board, saying activist investors would seek “skills and skills” to help the media and entertainment giant. I lacked experience,” he said.

In a letter to shareholders, Mickey Mouse House highlighted the company’s success under CEO Bob Iger, who recently returned from retirement to lead the company for the second time.

“Peltz does not understand Disney’s business and lacks the skills and experience to help the board deliver shareholder value in a rapidly changing media ecosystem,” Disney said.

The billionaire last week made his bid for a board seat to save the company from what he called a “crisis” of overspending on its streaming business, its acquisition of 21st Century Fox and a failed succession plan. has officially started.

According to Disney’s shareholder letter, which has also been filed with regulators, Peltz’s internal advocate, Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, has slated activist investor Ike to Disney’s Asked six times to join the board. Perlmutter said he has been working on the issue since July 2022 and has been in contact with former CEO Bob Chapek, director Safra Catz and other senior executives on behalf of Peltz.

The activist move is seen as a serious challenge for Iger, pitting one of Hollywood’s most popular executives against an activist investor known for his work at a consumer goods company. increase.

Peltz told CNBC last week that Disney would have to buy the remaining stake in Hulu it doesn’t already own or exit the streaming business. Disney also reached a deal in January 2024 to acquire his one-third stake in the Hulu streaming service from Comcast (CMCSA.O).

Disney also needed to increase capital expenditures for its park operations, possibly raising ticket prices “too high,” he said at the time.

In a statement Tuesday, Disney said it was already working to improve the profitability of its Disney+ streaming business, which Iger helped launch in 2019, and was rolling out broader cost-cutting measures.

Disney also defended its $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment business. This adds valuable film assets such as Avatar and the long-running animated series The Simpsons, the popular show that helped launch Disney+ in 2019. It brought in experienced executives to Disney, including Dana Walden.

Mr. Peltz’s Trian Fund Management, which owns about $900 million in a 0.5% stake in Disney, declined to comment.

Unless Peltz settles with Disney, investors will vote on whether Peltz joins the company’s board this year. Last year, the annual general meeting of shareholders was held on March 9th.

Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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