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Disney Founders’ Grandchildren Rally Behind CEO Bob Iger, Rejecting Activist Investor Moves

Bruno T
Latest News
March 01 2024 6:44AM

In a remarkable show of familial solidarity and corporate allegiance, the grandchildren of Walt Disney Co founders (NYSE:DIS), Roy and Walt Disney, have publicly declared their support for CEO Bob Iger and the company’s board of directors, amidst the backdrop of mounting pressures from activist investors aiming to reshape the iconic entertainment conglomerate.

In a forthright open letter addressed to Disney shareholders, the four grandchildren of Roy Disney – Roy P. Disney, Susan Disney Lord, Abigail E. Disney, and Tim Disney – voiced their apprehensions regarding the emerging threats from what they described as “self-anointed” activist investors. These investors were metaphorically branded as “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” perceived as entities poised to dismantle the integrity of the company.

This declaration emerges amidst Disney’s ongoing proxy battle with billionaire Nelson Peltz, who has been vocal in advocating for significant operational reforms within the company. Peltz’s proposals include stringent cost-cutting measures, the establishment of a profit model for Disney’s streaming ventures akin to Netflix, and an overhaul of the company’s succession planning frameworks.

In an assertive move earlier this year, Peltz’s Trian Fund Management lobbied for the replacement of Disney board members Michael Froman and Maria Elena Lagomasino with Peltz himself and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo. Trian’s critique of Disney’s strategic investments, dismissively termed a “spaghetti against the wall plan,” prompted a detailed rebuttal from Disney, defending its operational and strategic stance.

The Roy Disney lineage underscored in their letter the critical importance of allowing the strategies envisioned by Iger and his executive team to unfold without interference from external entities driven purely by self-interest.

Echoing this sentiment, the descendants of Walt Disney – Walter Elias Disney Miller, Tamara Diane Miller, Jennifer Miller-Goff, and Joanna Sharon Miller – issued a separate open letter, affirming their unwavering support for Iger and the board, while expressly opposing Peltz’s nominations.

They lauded Iger’s stewardship of Disney, highlighting his adeptness in navigating the company through contemporary challenges while preserving the delicate equilibrium between creative innovation and financial viability.

In response to these familial endorsements, a spokesperson from Trian Fund Management underscored the firm’s commitment to nurturing long-term growth and success in its investment ventures, citing its constructive engagements with other major corporations like P&G, Heinz, and Mondelez.

Bob Iger, touched by the support from the Disney founders’ descendants, expressed his profound respect for the legacy established by Walt and Roy Disney, underscoring the significance of their backing amidst these tumultuous times for the company.