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Trian's Nelson Peltz eyes Disney board seat and opposes Bob Iger

Nov 21, 2022
Trian Founding Partner Nelson Peltz, in a picture from Trian's New York office. Photographer: Calla Kessler/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trian founding partner Nelson Peltz at Trian's New York office. Photo: Calla Kessler/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Activist hedge fund Trian Partners has been eyeing a stake in Disney for at least several months, according to a person familiar with the matter, building on a thesis that the company's past dealmaking has dragged on its performance.

Why it matters: The move by Trian into Disney's stock — together with the fund's plan to have its founding partner, Nelson Peltz, join the board — puts an added layer of pressure on the company to eventually make some type of strategic move (acquisition/divestiture) at a time when temperature levels are already high.

Of note: Trian does not support Bob Iger as CEO of the company, the source said, and in fact, Trian sees Disney's 2019 acquisition of Fox media assets — a deal that Iger orchestrated — as a key reason for the company's struggles.

  • The source was not authorized to speak publicly about Trian's interest.

Details: Trian Partners bought more than $800 million worth of Disney shares shortly after that clunker of a fourth quarter, said the Wall Street Journal, which was first to report Peltz's move. The WSJ said Trian wants to build on its stake.

  • Trian is a massive fund, and its most aggressive campaigns usually start with stakes worth several billion dollars. That suggests Trian may stay quiet, at least for now, while the stake is relatively small.

Yes, but: The WSJ says that Peltz is seeking a seat on Disney’s board "as it pushes the entertainment giant to make operational improvements and cut costs," the article says. The WSJ also noted that Trian does not support Iger.

  • Other media industry stakes that Trian has owned include Comcast and the Madison Square Garden Company.

Trian and Disney did not immediately return requests for comment.

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