Disney’s Iger gets more activist heat amid stock slump

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    In the lead up to Disney’s release of first-quarter financial results on Wednesday afternoon, activist investors have continued to push the entertainment giant.

    That pressure has come from two entities, Trian Group and Blackwells Capital, who have made their own proposals for Disney’s upcoming annual meeting.

    Disney World entrance

    A sign near the entrance to Walt Disney World on May 22, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

    Activist Heat

    Nelson Peltz and Trian Group

    Trian Group has continued to pursue board seats for activist investor Nelson Peltz and former Disney CFO James Rasulo, calling for their election to “restore the magic” in a proxy statement last week. It first revealed its plans to put them forward in mid-December.

    NELSON PELTZ: DISNEY’S BOARD HAS ‘SELF-INFLICTED’ WOUNDS

    Blackwells

    Blackwells on Tuesday suggested Disney should consider dividing the entertainment giant up into three separate entities. It offered the possible idea of spinning Disney’s massive real estate portfolio off into either an “independent publicly listed REIT or a series of investment vehicles in which shares, cash and/or interests could be distributed to shareholders.”

    Disney Bob Iger

    Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger attends the Exclusive 100-Minute Sneak Peek of Peter Jackson’s “The Beatles: Get Back” at El Capitan Theatre on Nov. 18, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney / Getty Images)

    The investment firm also offered up three of its own nominees for Disney’s board – Jessica Schell, Craig Hatkoff and Leah Solivan – that it said would support CEO Bob Iger’s efforts if elected.

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    Disney has pushed back on Trian and BlackWells’ respective nominees and what they could bring to the table, saying its own board nominees were “best qualified to create sustainable shareholder value.”

    Ticker Security Last Change Change %
    DIS THE WALT DISNEY CO. 110.53 +11.26 +11.35%

    Activist heat is not, however, the only topic at issue for the entertainment giant. 

    ESPN

    Disney has identified turning ESPN into a “preeminent digital sports platform” as one of four major areas for future growth and opportunity. 

    ESPN logo on phone

    In this photo illustration, the American sports media conglomerate majority-owned by The Walt Disney Company, ESPN, logo is seen displayed on a smartphone with an economic stock exchange index graph in the background. (Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

    In November, Iger reiterated Disney was “exploring strategic partnerships” for the sports network. He also said the company could potentially work with “either tech companies that can provide us with marketing, technology support, customer acquisition help or sports leagues that can provide us with more content.”

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    Some shareholders are hoping to hear more about ESPN, which generated $953 million in operating income during the most recent quarter, and the company’s future plans for it.

    Stock Performance

    Disney’s stock price has been relatively flat since the start of Iger’s second stint as CEO, while other NASDAQ stocks, such as Amazon, Meta, Netflix and Apple, have all seen double-digit percentage gains. Over the past 12 months, Disney’s stock price has dropped 10%. It is a sobering number when measured against the S&P 500, which has gone up nearly 19% in that same time frame. Losses at Disney’s streaming division, some big box office failures, and problems at various theme parks, along with declining foot traffic at Disney parks have all contributed to the moribund stock performance. 



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