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Disney-Trian battle: State of play

Jan 24, 2024
Data: Axios; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Axios; Chart: Axios Visuals

Last updated Jan. 23, 2024

Disney's challenges have piled up since Bob Iger's return as CEO, including strikes, cost-cutting efforts and mounting pressure from activist hedge fund Trian Fund Management and its co-founder activist Nelson Peltz.

Driving the news: Peltz formally asked Disney shareholders to elect himself, as well as former Disney executive Jay Rasulo, to the company's board of directors. Blackwells criticized Trian and solicited support for its three nominees to Disney's board in a preliminary proxy filing.

Catch up quick: The latest Disney-Trian developments include:

  • Disney formally responded to Peltz's push for a board seat in an SEC filing in January, stating Peltz "does not understand" the media business.
  • Peltz said during an interview on CNBC that Disney has "to buy Hulu or they have to get out of the streaming business."
  • Support for Iger and the board could be solidified by ValueAct's investment plan for Disney, which focuses on strong cash flows from its parks and consumer products.
  • The activist hedge funds in Disney's stock—Trian, ValueAct, Ancora and Blackwells—waging a fight against each other in the beginning of 2024 strengthened Disney's defense.
  • Ancora, which holds a small stake in Disney, called for the company to put Peltz on the board in December 2023, complicating Disney's efforts to do the opposite.
  • ValueAct amassed a large stake in Disney in November, a move that was forecasted to help Disney's efforts to thwart Trian's campaign.
  • Trian made it clear in November that the fund intends to nominate its own directors following Disney's addition of two highly respected business leaders onto its board.
  • Former Marvel chairman Isaac Perlmutter gave Trian full voting power over his outsized Disney shares in October.
  • Peltz increased his firm's stake in The Walt Disney Company to about 30 million shares in October, announcing plans to seek board seats and reigniting a second proxy battle.
  • Trian ended its first proxy battle against Disney in February, abandoning its bid for a board seat after Iger announced a corporate restructuring.
  • Trian's plan to have Peltz join Disney's board started attracting attention in November 2022 after the Bob Chapek was replaced by Iger.

Zoom in: Shareholders launched 229 activist campaigns in 2023, setting a global record, and activists secured 134 board seats in the same year—a 30% increase and a five-year high.

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