Disney Suggests Ex-Marvel Chair's Firing Spurring Peltz's Proxy Fight
By Dean Seal
Disney is standing by its two recent director appointments as activist investor Nelson Peltz prepares a proxy battle backed by Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, the former Marvel Entertainment chairman ousted by Disney earlier this year.The entertainment giant said Thursday that Peltz's Trian Fund Management is planning a proxy campaign backed by a raft of 33 million shares, 25 million of which belong to Perlmutter.Disney said Perlmutter's significant contribution to the stake is relevant to shareholders assessing Trian's nominees because Perlmutter was fired by Disney earlier this year and has since voiced "his longstanding personal agenda" against Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger.The company is pushing back against grievances Trian aired on Thursday morning after Disney tapped Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman and former Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch as director nominees.The activist hedge-fund firm said Disney has offered to meet with Trian but rejected its request for board representation. The new appointments were an "improvement from the status quo" but won't restore investor confidence in the company, Trian said.Disney responded in a statement that it is coming out of 12 months of restructuring and moving from a "period of fixing to a new era of building."The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Peltz had grown his stake in Disney and was planning to seek multiple board seats. Trian launched a short-lived proxy campaign against Disney about a year ago, but backed off when Chief Executive Bob Iger announced $5.5 billion in budget cuts and cut about 7,000 positions from the company's payroll.