Disney names Mark Parker chairman, opposes Nelson Peltz push to join board

mark parker

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

the walt disney company on Wednesday named Mark Parker, executive chairman of Nikeits next chairman of the board, announcing that it opposes the effort of activist investor Nelson Peltz to join the board.

Disney’s announcements indicate a potentially big and messy fight. About two months ago, Peltz’s Trian Fund Management took an approximately $800 million stake in the company and began seeking board seats. Trion reportedly wants to improve operations and reduce costs, and has expressed its opposition to the reappointment of Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO.

“While senior leadership of The Walt Disney Company and its Board of Directors have engaged with Mr. Peltz several times over the past few months, the Board does not endorse the nominee of Trian Group, and recommends that shareholders vote for their nominee.” Do not endorse, and instead vote for all of the company’s nominees,” Disney said in its release on Wednesday.

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CNBC’s David Faber reports that Peltz is set to respond with the filing on Wednesday.

The new drama at Disney comes after a difficult year for the entertainment giant’s stock as rising streaming costs and a slim slate of theatrical releases ate into profits. Shares of the company closed at $96.33 on Wednesday. A year ago, Disney was trading at around $160 per share.

Parker will replace Susan Arnold, whose 15-year term expires after the company’s next annual meeting of shareholders. The date of the meeting has not been announced yet. After Arnold’s departure, there will be 11 members on Disney’s board.

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“During his four decades at Nike, Mark has led one of the world’s most recognized consumer brands through varied market growth and a successful CEO transition, and he looks forward to this period of transition,” Arnold said in a statement. Disney is uniquely positioned to chair the board during this period.” Statement Wednesday. Parker has been a member of Disney’s board for seven years. Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iger’s spectacular return in November came with the promise of a two-year term that would spur renewed growth. The CEO also plans to help find his next successor after the tenure of his previous chosen replacement, Bob Chapek, fell apart.

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Disney previously announced companywide cost-cutting measures in November, including a ban on all but essential work travel and a freeze on new hires for all but a few key positions. Iger upheld that freeze when he returned to the helm of the company later that month.

“Mr. Iger’s mandate is to use his two-year tenure and depth of experience in the industry to optimize the business model for the shifting media landscape, fresh focus on creative talent while rebalancing investment with revenue opportunity.” That focus is what made The Walt Disney Company the envy of the industry,” the company said.


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