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Disney and Trian wage media blitz as proxy vote nears

Mar 18, 2024
Photo illustration of Nelson Peltz and Bob Iger and abstract shapes.

Nelson Peltz and Bob Iger. Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photos: Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

With about two weeks until the annual shareholder meeting, the media blitz around both Disney and Trian is ramping up.

Why it matters: We're in the home stretch of the gloves-off proxy battle, and both sides are working overtime to win shareholder votes ahead of April 3.

Zoom in: The Wall Street Journal published two features Sunday: One covered a power struggle and other issues at Nelson Peltz's hedge fund; the other was a glossy profile of ESPN boss Jimmy Pitaro.

  • On Saturday, the New York Times ran a 5,000-word profile on Peltz.

Between the lines: Pitaro is viewed as one of the final four candidates to succeed Bob Iger as Disney CEO when his contract expires in 2026.

  • In yet another Disney-related article last week, Bloomberg reported that the company has focused its CEO search on his four top deputies — Pitaro, Dana Walden, Alan Bergman and Josh D'Amaro.
  • Trian has used Disney's trouble finding a long-term successor to Iger as a key reason for a board shakeup.

Catch up quick: The proxy fight has gotten uglier since Trian released its 133-page white paper earlier this month that detailed its plans if Peltz and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo win board seats.

  • Disney's presentation to investors slammed the track record of both Peltz and Rasulo and added that neither possesses the necessary media experience. Disney specifically criticized Rasulo's tenure on the iHeart Media board.
  • Disney also argued that former Marvel chairman Isaac Perlmutter was the real mastermind behind the proxy fight.
  • In response, Trian accused Disney of waging a scorched-earth campaign and attempting to distract from the board's shortcomings.

What we're watching: Proxy adviser Glass Lewis on Monday recommended all of Disney's directors.

  • That's a knock against Trian, but the big one will be ISS' view, which has a much bigger list of fund investor clients.
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