Bob Iger discusses the proxy fight with Nelson Peltz after the board vote – Business News (Trending Perfect)


Disney CEO Bob Iger on succession: It's really important to have a good transition

Nelson Peltz's proxy fight was a “distraction” and Disney It can now focus on trying to generate revenue streams and planning for its succession, CEO Bob Iger said on CNBC's “Squawk on the Street” on Thursday, just a day after handing the activist investor a harsh defeat.

“One of the things I'm comfortable with now is that, regardless of winning, I can spend all my time with the management team and the board executing on those priorities,” he said.

While Disney has launched a series of initiatives to boost the stock in recent months as the boardroom battle continues, Iger noted that Peltz's second proxy bid has done little to influence the company's succession strategy, business investments or shift in content plans.

Choosing his replacement “is the board's number one priority,” Iger told CNBC. He said Disney's succession committee, established when he returned to office in late 2022, held a number of meetings in 2023, with plans to hold more in 2024. Iger noted that the activity did not change Disney's succession process. Iger's contract runs until 2026.

Iger spoke about the challenges Bob Chapek faced when he took over the company in 2020, including shutting down film and TV production, closing theme parks and halting live sporting events. Chapek held the position for more than two years before Iger returned to it.

“It is clear that we are all learning from the past, and we are prepared for this process to succeed,” Iger said.

In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Peltz said he had no personal vendetta against Iger but wanted to make sure the company had a leadership plan in place.

“The only problem I had with Bob was the succession plan, which is once again at the feet of the board,” he said.

Nelson Peltz on Disney's proxy battle: I hope Bob Iger can keep his promises

Iger also disputed the idea that Peltz's activity was responsible for the company's recent stock gains — a claim made by the investor himself.

“The market is reacting to the performance of this company,” Iger said. “There was no real reaction to the activist.”

Disney shares are up 32% year to date. It surged in February after the company made a series of key announcements during its earnings call, including that it had acquired exclusive streaming rights to Taylor Swift's concert film Eras Tour, made a $1.5 billion strategic investment in Epic Games and will launch a flagship ESPN channel. Streaming service.

For months, Disney has been locked in a battle against Peltz's Trian Fund Management, which has sought two seats on the company's board. Peltz had publicly criticized Disney for its ongoing poor share performance, a botched succession process, and what he claimed were billions of dollars in misinvestments.

Peltz told CNBC that he would not try to wage another fight against Disney if Iger followed through on his plans to improve the company's performance.

“I hope Bob can keep his promises,” Peltz said Thursday. “I hope they can do all the things they assured us they would do. I'll watch and wait. If they do, they'll never hear from me again.”

Shareholders sided with Disney during an investor meeting on Wednesday. Peltz lost the race for his board seat to Maria Elena Lagomasino by a 2-to-1 margin, and Jay Rasulo, the former Disney CFO, who was also nominated by Trian, lost to Lagomasino by a 5-to-1 margin, a person familiar with the matter said. That person added that retail voters overwhelmingly supported Disney, which helped Iger get 94% of the total vote.

The second activist, Blackwells, also failed to win board seats in his long-shot bid.

In percentage terms, the director's vote turnout was in the mid-60s, another person familiar with the matter said. In 2023, about 63% of Disney shareholders voted.

Iger has done a lot to try to right things at Disney since returning to the company's helm in late 2022. He has scrapped the new corporate structure put in place by the short-lived Chapek and backed away from a number of film and TV projects at the company. He was producing. Iger also announced a plan last year to invest $60 billion in Disney theme parks, cruises and experiences over the next 10 years.

Next up is a new bundled sports service with Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox, as well as its flagship standalone service ESPN, which will eventually be available directly through Disney+.

“What we're trying to do is basically serve sports fans in multiple ways,” Iger said, adding that he doesn't expect much cannibalization between the two products.

Iger said the flagship ESPN service will contain significantly more content than the joint venture's ESPN component. He declined to reveal more about the joint venture, including the potential name or price point for the service.

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