Disney Faces Billionaire Hostile Takeover

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Mickey Mouse looking scared while driving

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company is suddenly in a new battle for control over the world’s most iconic studio.

Mickey Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle inside the Magic Kingdom with a couple of children
Credit: Disney

It would be an understatement to say that things have been pretty chaotic for the company in the last year. Once one of the most beloved media companies in the world, the home of Mickey Mouse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars has become one of the most controversial.

Perhaps more than anything else, it was former Disney CEO Bob Chapek finally taking a public stance against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act (better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law) that tipped things for the company.

Ron DeSantis
Credit: WikiMedia

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Shortly after, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis launched an alleged campaign of retaliation, which peaked with the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the company’s special tax district where Walt Disney World is located, and the installment of the DeSantis-controlled Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

But before that, Chapek was unexpectedly ousted from the company, and former Disney CEO Bob Iger was re-installed to right the ship, which has…not gone all that well.

Bob Iger close-up
Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

However, it seems that not everyone was happy about Chapek being removed and replaced by Bob Iger, whose business decisions have caused panic within the Walt Disney Company and was heavily criticized during the Writers Guild of America strike for his unbending attitude toward the people who produce the content on which his company runs.

One of those unhappy people is Nelson Peltz, the billionaire activist investor who previously contested Chapek being dismissed as CEO in place of his former colleague.

Back in January, Peltz and his firm, Trian Fund Management, attempted to forcibly seize a seat on the Disney board of directors, citing the new CEO’s lack of corporate governance and the company’s massive expenditures to purchase Fox. That particular gambit did not succeed, but now Peltz is back and more determined than ever.

Bob Iger with the Walt Disney and Mickey statue at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Disney’s stock price recently hit a 52-week low, creating the perfect moment for Nelson Peltz and Trian to strike. The billionaire has increased his existing shares in Disney to some 30 million, approximately $2.5 billion (per CNBC). This makes him one of the single largest shareholders in the company.

Related: Disney Gives Up, Hands Disney+ Streaming Power to Netflix

Reportedly, Peltz is now seeking to seize multiple seats on the Disney board of directors, including one for himself. If successful, this would put the investor in a huge position of power to get rid of the current CEO.

Essentially, Peltz is attempting a proxy war, which means individual shareholders band together to overthrow the existing management and force it in the direction they want. While the billionaire investor may have failed in January, he is in a far more advantageous position this time around.

It certainly seems like Disney very well may have a new CEO sooner than expected.

Does Disney need to change its leadership? Is this the way to go about it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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