CEO Bob Iger defeats billionaire foe Nelson Peltz| Trending Viral hub

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger on Wednesday fended off an aggressive challenge from activist investors seeking to take the company in a new direction, avoiding what would have been a stunning embarrassment for one of Hollywood’s top executives.

The entertainment conglomerate’s corporate leadership faced a bold attack from billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who loudly lobbied the company to come up with a concrete succession plan and mocked efforts to make more diverse movies and shows.

But that crusade failed, as Disney shareholders approved board members backed by the company’s current leadership, denying seats to Peltz and his ally Jay Rasulo, Disney’s former chief financial officer.

Iger’s victory comes at a key moment for a company that has found itself at the center of broader culture wars in the United States as it tries to navigate dizzying changes in the media landscape, including the rise of streaming, the decline of television traditional and the growing competition of social networks. media.

During the pandemic, Disney saw its stock rise to all-time highs amid belief that streaming revenue would increase, but the stock price fell to new lows soon after as the company struggled with how to succeed Iger, who left the company. company in 2020 and then returned two years later.

Today, Disney’s stock price, at about $122, is little changed from about 10 years ago, a fact that has earned the ire of so-called activist investors like Peltz, who buy shares of companies on the market. open in hopes of installing board members who believe they can make decisions that lead to higher returns for investors.

Disney’s challenges are real. The highly marketed Disney+ streaming platform is not profitable, although Iger has said he expects it to be profitable by the end of this year. Business analysts say Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars franchises have lost steam. ESPN, which Disney has effectively controlled since the 1990s, continues to lose traditional television viewers in the wake of the cord-cutting revolution.

“They’re trying to do a lot of things at once, rather than focusing on one thing and really accomplishing it,” said Rich Greenfield, co-founder of research group LightShed Partners. he told CNBC last week.

Disney is also paying nearly $9 billion to Comcast for Hulu, which it has said it plans to relaunch. NBC News is wholly owned by Comcast.

The latest anti-Iger campaign was led by Trian Partners, an activist hedge fund run by Peltz, a businessman known for investing in or acquiring companies with the goal of improving their stock prices.

In a January interview on CNBCPeltz made his case for an overhaul of Disney’s leadership, saying the company was not being run “properly” and that its board of directors lacked oversight.

“They promised they would make things better. I took them at their word,” she said. “Things got worse. The stock went down. The results got worse. So no more. I can’t keep giving them any more chances.”

Peltz has also criticized Disney’s efforts to produce more diverse and inclusive entertainment. In a recent interview with financial timeFor example, he took aim at Marvel projects that he said were too focused on racial and gender diversity.

“Why do I have to have an all-female Marvel?” he said. “Not that I have anything against women, but why do I have to do that? Why can’t I have Marvels that are both? Why do I need an all-black cast?”

In the run-up to Wednesday’s vote, Disney’s current directors rejected the plan by Peltz and the Blackwells activist group, saying the billionaire “hadn’t actually presented a single strategic idea for Disney” and that he lacked the necessary experience. in the matter.

Iger’s regime received public support from prominent names such as Star Wars creator George Lucas; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase; Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs; and members of the Disney family such as Abigail E. Disney.

In recent days, Iger has also gained support from key institutional shareholders such as BlackRock and T. Rowe Price.

However, Peltz earned some crucial endorsements. ISS, a leading proxy advisory firm, sided with the activists and criticized Disney’s succession plans. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), one of the largest pension funds in the country, also endorsed Peltz.

Iger has long been considered one of the titans of the modern entertainment industry, celebrated for his managerial acumen and creativity. In his first career at Disney, he built the company into a global power by acquiring major brands including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.

But that reputation has taken a hit in his second term amid high-profile skirmishes with Peltz, tech mogul Elon Musk and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who waged a legal battle against the company after he publicly criticized the program. “Don’t say gay” about his status. law that stops classroom discussions about sex and gender.

Iger attempted to rebut Peltz and court Wall Street during Disney’s quarterly earnings conference call in February. He announced a series of eye-catching initiatives, including an investment in the creator of the “Fortnite” game, plans to launch a sports streaming service in 2025 and an animated sequel to “Moana” set to hit theaters in November.

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