ValueAct Capital Management has committed its support for Disney’s board nominees in the upcoming annual shareholder meeting, as reported by Yahoo Finance. Concurrently, ValueAct Capital Management plans to engage in discussions about future strategies, addressing the current financial challenges faced by Disney.
In a parallel development, hedge fund Blackwells Capital, aligning with CEO Robert Iger’s initiatives, is advocating for three candidates to join Disney’s board. These candidates aim to reinforce Iger’s strategy and provide an alternative perspective to Trian Fund Management.
The combined endorsements from ValueAct and Blackwells intensify the pressure on Trian Fund Management, urging them to present a more compelling alternative vision for the company’s future.
Since returning to his position in late 2022, CEO Robert Iger has faced persistent challenges from Trian. During that period, Disney, led by Iger’s successor Bob Chapek, incurred significant losses in its streaming services and released a series of underwhelming films. Consequently, 8,000 employees were laid off, with the primary objective being a cost-saving measure of approximately $7.5 billion.
Trian Fund Management, holding around $3 billion in Disney stock, equating to 1.8% of outstanding shares, remains a key player in these strategic discussions.
Morfit said Wednesday that Disney has the best intellectual property, sports brand and theme park assets, and can lead the media industry forward as legacy technologies transition to digital platforms. Iger said the company has had “very constructive” conversations with ValueAct over the past year.
Disney’s shares, which have seen a modest 2% increase in the past year, remained relatively stable at $90.46 in New York on Wednesday morning.
For the upcoming shareholder meeting, typically held in spring, Blackwells is putting forth three nominees: Jessica Schell, a former Warner Bros. executive specializing in content distribution; Craig Hatkoff, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival; and Leah Solivan, the founder of TaskRabbit Inc.
Blackwells Onshore I LLC, with a beneficial ownership of 9,850 shares, and Jason Aintabi, Blackwells’ chief investment officer holding 56,600 shares, along with Blackwells Capital LLC’s ownership of 56,600 shares, are integral to these nominations.
Disney has stated its intention to review Blackwells’ nominees and provide a recommendation to the board. Meanwhile, Disney’s nominations for board additions include Morgan Stanley Chairman James Gorman and seasoned media executive Jeremy Darroch.
Trian, expressing openness to other shareholders aiding in the company’s improvement, emphasizes the need for Nelson Peltz and Matthew Rasulo as independent voices and catalysts for essential changes, believing they can benefit long-suffering Disney shareholders.