The battle between Disney CEO Bob Iger (left) and Trian Partners’ CEO Nelson Peltz (right) is ongoing, despite a strong quarter.
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP; CNBC
Disney CEO Bob Iger and activist investor Nelson Peltz are still sparring despite stellar earnings.Peltz’s Trian Fund Management seems unimpressed with Iger’s moves to grow Disney.All signs point to the fact that Peltz’s second Disney proxy fight is still on.
Despite what one analyst has called Disney’s “epic quarter,” tensions between CEO Bob Iger and activist investor Nelson Peltz seem to be running as high as ever.
Disney’s earnings report on Wednesday wowed the market, sending shares up nearly 12% Thursday. It also announced a number of new partnerships — including with “Fortnite” maker Epic Games and Taylor Swift — and a new “Moana” movie.
It was, by many accounts, a knockout news cycle for Iger after a tough 2023 at the House of Mouse, and proof the company is moving in the right direction with him back at the helm as CEO. But Peltz’s Trian Fund Management, which has criticized Disney’s leadership and is seeking seats on its board, hasn’t been placated. And the verbal jabs both sides threw at each other indicate the proxy fight is still on.
Iger appeared to take the first swing. “The last thing that we need right now is to be distracted in terms of our time, our energy by an activist or activists that, frankly, have a completely different agenda and don’t understand our company, its assets, even the essence of the Disney brand,” he said on CNBC on Thursday during a triumphant interview.
Trian parried, with a statement saying: “It’s déjà vu all over again. We saw this movie last year and we didn’t like the ending.”
Peltz, the billionaire cofounder of Trian, has been a vocal critic of Iger and his leadership, and the current proxy fight is the second in as many years. Trian called off the first in early 2023 after Disney announced a plan including layoffs and cost-cutting.
But Trian, which now owns about $3 billion of Disney stock, has circled back, demanding board seats. Peltz has specifically lamented Disney’s streaming losses, a pause in dividends, and the lack of a comprehensive succession plan. “Disney has lost its way!“, Trian said in a February 1 statement.
While Peltz hasn’t released any white paper laying out a reaction to the most recent earnings report just yet — last year’s skewering note was titled “Restore the Magic” — his firm’s initial reaction doesn’t seem to portend a truce.
That said, Iger doesn’t seem too concerned — especially because, in practice, a takeover would be very hard for Peltz to pull off.
Plus, “we know a lot more about” how to run the company successfully “than any outsider is going to tell us or educate us about,” he said on CNBC, adding that he has no plan to speak to Peltz any time soon.