Disney announces April date for its showdown with activist investor Peltz

Bob Iger

Bob Iger

With its Q1 2023 results due out tomorrow (Feb 8), the Walt Disney company has finally set a date for its annual meeting of shareholders – which will take place Monday, April 3. Ordinarily, this kind of calendar scheduling would pass by with limited interest, but the April meeting is expected to witness a battle between Disney’s management and activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is looking for a seat on the firm’s board.

Ahead of that confrontation, tomorrow’s results take on a special significance – since they are the first measure of the company’s health since the shock return of CEO Bob Iger last November. Investors will be looking for evidence that the company’s pivot to streamer is working – and for information on proposed efficiencies. The results announcement may also provide some clue as to how Disney plans to resist Peltz.

Peltz, via his company Trian Group, has been highly critical of Disney’s performance and its acquisition of 21stCentury Fox. However he has received a firm pushback from the current board. Outlining its opposition to Peltz joining the top table, Disney said he “had not, actually presented a single strategic idea for Disney” when his company Trian presented to the board in January “despite months of engagement”. According to the board, Trian’s view of Disney seems “oblivious to the secular change that had been ongoing in the media industry, as well as the impact of the pandemic on each part of the Company’s business from production, to exhibition, to leisure travel”.

Disney also criticised what it called Peltz’s “lack of media or technology industry experience coupled with his focus on successful approaches from businesses like Heinz, Procter & Gamble and DuPont which have little in common with Disney”.

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