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Exclusive-Disney prevails over Trian in board fight, sources say

Published 04/02/2024, 10:37 PM
Updated 04/03/2024, 09:57 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toy figures of people are seen in front of the displayed Disney + logo, in this illustration taken January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) -Walt Disney Co has secured enough shareholder votes to defeat a challenge against its board mounted by Nelson Peltz's hedge fund Trian Fund Management, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Enough votes had been cast as of Tuesday evening to put Disney's board directors safely ahead of Trian's two challengers, Peltz and former Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo, the sources said.

Blackwells Capital, another hedge fund that nominated three board director candidates at Disney, was also unsuccessful in its attempt, the sources said.

The result of this year's most high-profile board fight will be announced at Disney's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, and the sources cautioned that there was always a possibility that some shareholders may change their vote. They requested anonymity ahead of an official announcement. 

Spokespeople for Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trian and Blackwells had no comment.

Trian may still be able to claim a financial win at Disney, given that the company's shares have gained nearly 50% since early October when Peltz said he was planning a fresh push for seats. 

Over the last few months, Disney unveiled a string of changes as it sought to win back investors' confidence, including a splashy investment in "Fortnite" maker Epic Games and plans to launch an ESPN streaming service in 2025. It also refreshed its board with two new members. 

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toy figures of people are seen in front of the displayed Disney + logo, in this illustration taken January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Trian and Blackwells argued new blood was needed in the board room because Disney bungled its succession planing, lost its creative spark and failed to properly harness new technology.

Bob Iger, who was recruited out of retirement in 2022 to run Disney a second time, is trying to reinvigorate the company's creative franchises, make its streaming business profitable and find partners to help build ESPN's digital future. 

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