Disney Officially Launches Nationwide Initiative to Fight off Billionaires and Activists

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Mickey Mouse dressed up as Uncle Sam in front of the Walt Disney Company building with a guest casting a ballet into a voting box.

Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

To hopefully fend off billionaires and activists from taking over the Disney Board of Directors, the Walt Disney Company (WDC) has launched a nationwide initiative.

Bob Iger and Nelson Peltz looking at each other in front of the Walt Disney Company building.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Walt Disney Company Launches Website in Hopes of Motivating Voters in Their Direction

Ahead of the April 3rd Annual Shareholder meeting, Disney launched the Vote Disney platform in anticipation of potential proxy battles from Trian and Blackwells, both vying for seats on Disney’s Board of Directors.

Emphasizing the significance of each shareholder’s vote, regardless of the size of their holdings, Disney underscores the importance of active participation. The website, curated to guide shareholders towards voting in alignment with Disney’s interests, features an informative video showcasing Ludwig Von Drake, a signature touch from the House of Mouse. Additionally, shareholders are advised to utilize the white voting card and oppose candidates endorsed by Trian and Blackwells.

On February 6, 2024, Blackwells Capital LLC (Blackwells) filed a proxy statement and whitepaper to solicit a vote to elect three individuals to the Disney board of directors. Blackwells is an activist hedge fund that filed a Form DEFC14A with the WDC. But the most interesting part of the proxy battle was Blackwell’s attempt to split the Walt Disney Company into three separate entities.

The Blackwells Capitol logo over the front entrance to the Walt Disney Company building.
Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

The Annual Meeting of Shareholders marks the culmination of Nelson Peltz’s multi-year campaign to secure a seat on Disney’s Board of Directors. Trian Group has put forward both Peltz and former Disney executive James “Jay” Rasulo in their nominations.

In a letter addressed to shareholders, Disney CEO Bob Iger highlighted the extensive restructuring efforts undertaken, resulting in significant cost reductions amounting to $7.5 billion. With the restructuring phase concluded, Iger affirms a renewed focus on business expansion, identifying key opportunities such as streaming profitability, ESPN, film studios, and enhancing growth within the theme parks division.

Acknowledging the contributions of the executive team, Iger introduces the new CFO, Hugh Johnston, who previously worked with PepsiCo for 34 years. Reflecting on the transformative journey of Disney, Iger expresses pride in the progress achieved and commits to ensuring a robust foundation for his successor.

CEO Bob Iger in front of Disney HQ
Credit: Disney

If you head to the website launched, you’ll notice how the company used a bizarre tactic to get its shareholders to understand the importance of the April 3 Board votes and how they should vote in favor of the nominees Disney put up some time ago.

With the official April 3 Board voting coming up quickly, time will tell how things will look after that date and whether or not Peltz, Blackwells, or Trian accomplished their goals in obtaining a Board seat that could mark a new era for the House of Mouse.

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