Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz has launched an all-out, MAGA-style assault on Disney CEO Bob Iger, vowing to bring “leadership mentality” back to the media giant’s boardroom with a “Restore The Magic” campaign.
After years of tanking stocks, uber-woke failures, and the loss of faith by many in “The Happiest Place On Earth,” Peltz, who already owns 0.5 percent of Disney through his Trian Partners firm, is looking for a seat on the company’s board.
The Restore The Magic website went live with stark criticism of the company’s “poor” corporate governance, strategy and operations, and capital allocation.
“Trian believes that Disney is a company in crisis and faces many challenges that weigh on the Company’s investment prospects,” it says on the site. “We believe that these challenges are primarily self-inflicted and need to be addressed.”
On Thursday, Peltz appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” and slammed Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of Fox in 2019.
“Fox hurt this company. Fox took the dividend away,” he said. “Fox turned what was once a pristine balance sheet into a mess.”
According to its website, Trian Partners is “a highly engaged shareowner that combines concentrated public equity ownership with operational expertise.”
"This is a lot more than a media company; This is a consumer company with a basketful of the greatest brands in the world," Nelson Peltz, Trian Partners founder and CEO, says of Disney. https://t.co/0R89pyt9HT pic.twitter.com/KkwWTk1nT7
— CNBC (@CNBC) January 12, 2023
CNBC characterizes it as an “activist firm” and notes that it filed on Thursday a preliminary proxy statement seeking a spot on the board for Peltz.
“Why not?” the 80-year-old business mogul asked. “We’ve got skin in the game.”
Disney has offered Peltz the opportunity to be a “board observer,” which means he can weigh in on meetings and offer his advice, but he doesn’t get a vote.
“They said, ‘you can be in the meetings,'” he revealed. “So they want my input on operations but they don’t want my input on corporate governance.”
“That’s why they don’t want me to have a vote that says that they believe even that I have something to add,” he explained.
Peltz didn’t specifically say “go woke, go broke,” but he does have a history of warning companies to keep their political statements to themselves, the Daily Mail reports.
He also, he claims, has an impressive boardroom track record.
“On every board that I have served on – and I’ve served on more boards than anyone I know – that company has outperformed the S&P by 900 basis points annually,” he said on Squawk. “I just need to speak reasonably to these people and explain to them where they went wrong or what opportunities they’re missing.”
After being disappointed with Disney’s books in recent years, the investor said he believes he can help the company do better.
“We look at a company and we see that this is the most advantaged consumer company on the planet. And we love it. That’s the reason why we’re here,” Peltz said. “However, the total shareholder return, over 1,3,5,10 years has materially underperformed the S&P and underperformed the proxy peers that the company has selected.”
“They eliminated the dividend that was in effect for 57 years. Fifty-seven years of a dividend and now it’s gone,” he continued. “And now they want to tell us everything is going to be great again. We think we can help. We have a record of helping.”
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