Trian nominates Peltz and former Disney exec to media giant’s board

Nelson Peltz, founder and chief executive officer of Trian Fund Management, during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute Priority Summit in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Marco Bello | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Trian Fund Management on Thursday announced it was nominating its CEO, Nelson Peltz, and former Walt Disney CFO Jay Rasulo to the media giant’s board, as the firm wages a contentious proxy fight with Disney.

“Unfortunately, the Board and CEO appear to have no conviction that things will get better,” the activist-investor firm said in a press release.

Trian had initially sought to nominate three or four board members, but after Rasulo accepted the invitation to be nominated, Trian decided the two would be a stronger option, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Disney fired back at the move by Trian by defending its current board.

“Disney has an experienced, diverse, and highly qualified Board that is focused on the long-term performance of the Company, strategic growth initiatives including the ongoing transformation of its businesses, the succession planning process, and increasing shareholder value,” Disney said in a statement Thursday.

Still, Disney said its governance and nominating committee will review the nominations and provide a recommendation to the board.

The announcement comes after Trian reignited its proxy battle with Disney last month. The firm announced it was seeking two board seats for Peltz and another media executive, following what it called “significant value destruction and missteps” that the board oversaw.

Disney shares are up more than 8% for the year, but they’ve far underperformed the S&P 500’s gains. The stock was up more than 2% Thursday.

Trian’s proxy fight comes as Disney CEO Bob Iger tries to right the ship after a broad restructuring that resulted in thousands of layoffs. The media giant, long known to be a box office monster, has suffered a number of disappointments in recent years. In an effort to re-strategize, Iger will cut back on movies and other new content to better the company’s financial standing, as it looks to cut billions of dollars in costs and make its streaming business profitable.

Disney has said the proxy fight is apparently in part due to a personal grudge held by Peltz’s ally and former Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter. Trian has oversight of shares owned by Perlmutter, who has been an outspoken critic of Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The fight launched by Trian last month came the morning after Disney appointed Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman and former Sky TV boss Jeremy Darroch to its board, in what appeared to be a move to temper Trian’s discontent.

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