Nelson Peltz has waved the white flag on his proxy battle against Disney after the company’s CEO Bob Iger announced hefty restructuring plans.
“Now Disney plans to do everything we wanted them to do,” the Trian Management CEO said Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “We wish the very best to Bob [Iger], this management team and the board. We will be watching. We will be rooting.”
With that, he declared: “The proxy fight is over.”
As detailed in an earnings call Wednesday, Disney will axe 7,000 jobs, or about 3% of its workforce, with the goal of reducing costs by approximately $5.5 billion.
“While this is necessary to address the challenges we’re facing today, I do not make this decision lightly,” Iger said during yesterday’s call. “I have enormous respect and appreciation for the talent and dedication of our employees worldwide. And I’m mindful of the personal impact of these changes. On the content side, we expect to deliver approximately $3 billion in savings over the next few years, excluding sports.” (The remaining $2.5 billion will come from non-content cost reductions.)
Iger’s plans address several of the concerns Peltz raised when he initially began pursuing a seat on Disney’s board in opposition to the company’s nominee, Nike exec Mark Parker. On Jan. 11, Trian – which owns 9.4 million Disney shares – launched a campaign called “Restore the Magic.” In the letter to shareholders, the investment firm pointed to the company’s low stock prices and plummeting market value.
Peltz’s demands included that Disney cut back on “overearning” in its theme parks division and various amendments to company bylaws.
Disney fought back by defending Iger, who returned to lead the company in November 2022, and declaring that Peltz did not have sufficient skills or knowledge to assist the board.
Prior to Wednesdsay’s earnings call, Peltz had redirected his criticisms toward the board itself and asked to instead replace Michael B.G. Froman, the MasterCard executive who has served on the board since 2018.