Disney CEO Bob Iger sailed on his yacht, while activist investor Nelson Peltz stepped up pressure on the media giant.


With the stock price plunging and pressure mounting from activist investor Nelson Peltz of Trian Partners, Disney’s ( DIS ) newly restructured CEO Bob Iger is reportedly spending his vacation days on the high seas.

Speaking on a Dec. 20 call, Iger postponed a virtual meeting between himself, the Disney board and Peltz until January because he “planned to take his yacht off the coast of New Zealand,” according to a lawyer statement filed by Trian Partners on Thursday.

The virtual meeting was finally scheduled for January 10, with a Disney representative telling Triana on December 28 that the meeting would be limited to just 30 minutes.

An additional 15 minutes was granted at the request of the activist hedge fund after delegates expressed frustration with the time limits, according to the statement.

After the virtual meeting officially took place earlier this week, a person familiar with the situation told Yahoo Finance Peltz found a very disconnected Disney board of directors. Peltz was not asked any questions, the source added.

“Nelson is up for a fight here,” the source said, noting that Peltz could pressure Disney to cut costs, among other initiatives designed to boost profits and lower stock prices.

Peltz, who has run successful activist campaigns for high-profile brands such as P&G, also wants to see Disney restore its dividend, which was cut during the pandemic, the source said. The source added that Peltz has not decided whether an ESPN spin-off from Disney will happen, as Wall Street has insisted in the past.

Peltz reportedly owns about $900 million in Disney stock and also criticized Iger’s compensation in a new slide deck titled “Restore the Magic.”

Iger was not made available to Yahoo Finance for an interview.

Nelson Peltz is a founding partner of Trian Fund Management LP. Speaking at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

To be sure, this is shaping up to be one of the uglier activist battles in recent memory, filled with big egos, big money and big branding.

Disney announced on Wednesday that Mark Parker, executive chairman and former CEO of Nike, will take over from Susan Arnold as chairman of the board. The company also advised shareholders to vote against Peltz in his bid to win a seat on the company’s board.

“While senior management of The Walt Disney Company and its Board of Directors have communicated with Mr. Peltz repeatedly over the past several months, the Board does not endorse the Trian Group nominee and advises shareholders not to endorse his nominee and to vote instead. FOR all Company nominees (listed above),” Disney wrote in a news release.

Yahoo Finance Peltz has not been offered a board observer role, as previously reported by other media outlets, a source said. Instead, the source said, Peltz was offered the opportunity to share information and meet quarterly with management and the board under a nondisclosure agreement.

According to a statement Thursday, Peltz expressed interest in joining Disney’s board as early as July and had multiple conversations with former Disney CEO Bob Chapek three days after Iger was reinstated as executive on Nov. 23. .

During that November meeting, Trian representatives emphasized their unwillingness to engage in a lengthy and costly proxy battle and supported Iger’s return.

At the time, Disney floated the idea of ​​adding a mutually agreed-upon independent director to the Board, but Trian doubled down that representation by a Trian partner was intended to “foster an ownership mentality in the boardroom” and “stimulate additional discussions among Disney.” The directors have been briefed on the difficulties faced by the Company,” the statement said.

Bob Iger, executive chairman of the Walt Disney Company, arrives at the world premiere of The King's Man.  In Leicester Square, London, 6 December 2021.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Walt Disney Company Executive Chairman Bob Iger arrives at the world premiere of ‘The King’s Man’ in Leicester Square on December 6, 2021 in London. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Disney faced 2022 as shares fell nearly 45%, marking the worst annual stock performance for the House of Mouse since 1974.

Streaming profitability, Hulu’s future and a possible ESPN split hang in the balance as Iger continues to navigate a business beset by leadership issues, unfavorable price increases and a direct-to-consumer division struggling to turn a profit. .

Still, the media giant defended the company’s stock performance under Iger’s watch, noting that the company’s total shareholder return during his first tenure as CEO was 554%, beating the 244% total return realized by the S&P 500 during that period.

Brian Sozzi is a senior editor and Host at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and continues LinkedIn.

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