The Battle Between Nelson Peltz and Bob Iger for the Soul and Spirit of Disney Begins

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CNBC reports that Nelson Peltz, an activist investor, worked behind the scenes to gain two or more Disney Board seats this week. Disney CEO Bob Iger then responded by making his own moves.

The battle for the soul and Spirit of The Walt Disney Company is underway.

CNBC reported, “The usual person who knows the matter”, Peltz is seeking three seats. He is seeking two seats, and his investment firm, Trian, which controls over $3 billion in Disney shares, will be claiming the other two. There is a more personal side to this story, which I will discuss shortly.

Iger won’t tolerate it. The New York Times announced on Wednesday that Iger would be adding two more seats to the Disney Board of Directors, loyal to him. They will be held by Morgan Stanley CEO James P. Gorman and UKs ex-Sky TV Chief Jeremy Darroch.

Peltz has announced that he will be launching a second proxy battle for Disney’s Board of Directors after his failed first attempt in February. In a press release issued on Thursday, he said that “investors’ trust is low and strategic questions are looming. Even Disney CEO admits that the Company’s issues are more serious than initially believed.” ”

Disney’s shares have dropped by over half since March 2021, when they peaked. Disney has been one of the worst performing large-cap companies over the last three years, but it was among the worst. This week, the shares have been slightly higher. Investors are either betting on Peltz’s takeover or liking Iger for his cost-cutting measures.

Disney says the dispute between Peltz and Disney is not business related, but rather personal.

Ike Perlmutter, one of Peltz’s closest allies, is a key player in the company. Ike Perlmutter may own up to 25,000,000 shares of the 33,000,000 Disney shares are owned by Trian. Perlmutter is the former head of Marvel Studios and was forced to leave Disney in 2015.

Disney issued a press statement on Thursday reminding the public, “Mr. Perlmutter was terminated from his employment by Disney earlier this year because he voiced his personal agenda that he held against Disney CEO Robert A. Iger. ”

Perlmutter and MCU executive director Kevin Feige reportedly fell out. Feige has gradually added more “diversity and inclusion” to Marvel films since he got rid of Perlmutter.

Disney’s Star Wars is also in a state of emergency. It has spent billions of dollars on a failed Star Wars expansion in its Orlando theme park, streamed questionable TV shows on its money-losing Disney+, and has had no new films in production since the filming of “Rise of Skywalker” began in 2017. Disney lost the magic of Pixar while it was under its control. Disney’s animated classics and live-action remakes are best left unsaid.

Peltz and Perlmutter might have had grudges, but the proxy fight isn’t about the board of directors or the stock price. It’s a battle for the soul of Disney, who has been greedily devouring the creative seedcorn of Disney, a hundred years of intellectual property that makes up the Disney magic.