Strategy

Disney defeats activist investors, but challenges remain

CEO says company can now focus on growth, “creative excellence” for audiences.
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The attempted coup on Disney’s board of directors played out much like the media empire’s 2023 in films: It was a flop.

Reigning chief executive Bob Iger fended off an attempt by activist investors, chiefly billionaire Nelson Peltz and former Marvel Entertainment chair Ike Perlmutter, to place people they backed on the company’s board of directors, the New York Times reported. Peltz’s hedge fund, Trian Partners, controls about $3.5 billion in Disney stock, most of which Perlmutter owns.

The trailer gave away the ending, however: The night before the annual shareholder meeting, Reuters reported that Disney brass had secured enough shareholder votes to fend off the attack.

“With the distracting proxy contest now behind us, we’re eager to focus 100% of our attention on our most important priorities: growth and value creation for our shareholders and creative excellence for our consumers,” Mr. Iger said in a statement.

But as with virtually every Marvel movie, this victory doesn’t mark the end of Disney’s challenges. As our colleagues at Morning Brew pointed out, the company has no successor to Iger in place and its streaming service, Disney+, still isn’t profitable. (Might we suggest as much Obi-Wan Kenobi content as possible?)

“The challenge right now facing Disney is that they’re trying to do many things at the same time,” instead of “nailing” just one thing, Rich Greenfield, co-founder of LightShed Partners, said in an interview with CNBC last week.

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.