Disney resists Nelson Peltz’s push to join the board and appoints Mark Parker as chairman

Breaking news: Nelson Peltz seeks Disney board seat

The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday afternoon said it opposed an attempt by activist investor Nelson Peltz to join its board. Disney also appointed Mark Parker as Executive Chairman of Nikeits next chairman.

Peltz’s Trian Fund Management later confirmed that it had nominated Peltz to Disney’s board of directors. Disney, Peltz said, “got lost, leading to a rapid deterioration in its financial performance.” The company’s shares closed at $96.33 on Wednesday. A year ago, Disney was trading at around $160 per share.

The announcements signal a grand and chaotic battle. Nearly two months ago, Trian took an approximately $800 million stake in the company and began bidding for a seat on the board. Trian wants to make operational improvements and reduce costs, according to the company’s announcement Wednesday. The company said it plans to file a proxy statement with federal authorities on Thursday.

Trian also said it doesn’t want to replace Bob Iger as CEO. Instead, Trian says, they want to work with Iger to ensure a successful CEO transition within the next two years.

“Trian’s goal is to create sustainable, long-term value at Disney through collaboration with Bob Iger and the Disney Board of Directors,” the company said. “We recognize that Disney is going through a period of significant change and we are NOT trying to create additional instability.”

Disney anticipated Trian’s announcement, saying earlier Wednesday that it had rejected Peltz’s advances.

“While senior management at The Walt Disney Company and its board have worked with Mr. Peltz on numerous occasions over the past few months, the board does not endorse Trian Group’s nominee and is recommending that shareholders not endorse his nominee and instead vote for all of the company’s nominees said Disney.

A new chairman

The new drama at Disney comes after a tough year for the entertainment giant’s stock, as rising streaming costs and a slim theatrical release slate drove gains.

Parker, who remains Nike’s executive chairman, will succeed Susan Arnold. Her 15-year tenure at Disney ends after the next annual meeting of shareholders. The date for the meeting has yet to be announced. Disney’s board of directors will be reduced to 11 members following Arnold’s departure.

Markus Parker

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“During his four decades at Nike, Mark has led one of the world’s most recognized consumer brands through various market developments and a successful CEO transition, and he is uniquely positioned to chair the Disney Board of Directors at this stage of transformation,” said Arnold in a statement Wednesday. Parker has been a member of Disney’s board of directors for seven years.

Iger’s impressive return in November came with the promise of a two-year stint that would spark renewed growth. The CEO also plans to help find his next successor after his previously handpicked successor Bob Chapek’s tenure fell apart. Trian slammed Disney on Wednesday for “failed succession planning.”

Disney previously announced this company-wide cost-cutting measures in November, including a ban on all but essential business travel and a hiring freeze on all but a few critical positions. Iger stuck to that hiring freeze when he returned to the helm of the company later that month.

“Mr. Iger’s mandate is to use his two-year tenure and extensive experience in the industry to adapt the business model to the changing media landscape, rebalancing investments and revenue opportunities while re-focusing on the creative talent that The Walt has spawned Disney Company the envy of the industry,” the company said.

– CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this report.

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/11/nike-chairman-mark-parker-will-become-chairman-of-disney.html Disney resists Nelson Peltz’s push to join the board and appoints Mark Parker as chairman

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