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Shareholders of Disney supported CEO Iger and rejected activists who wanted to make changes to the company

Shareholders of Disney supported CEO Robert Iger. They rejected activist investor Nelson Peltz and former Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo from joining the company’s board. The company had suggested a group of directors that did not include Peltz or

By DAVID HAMILTON (AP Business Reporter)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Disney shareholders have shown their support for CEO Robert Iger, rejecting the efforts of activist investor Nelson Peltz and former Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo to join the company’s board.

The company had suggested a group of directors that did not include Peltz or Rasulo.

The dissenting shareholders had mentioned in an initial proxy filing that they wanted to achieve a “successful CEO transition” at Disney and link management compensation to performance. Despite their defeat, they claimed a form of success after the vote, noting that since Peltz’s company, Trian Partners, started pressuring Disney in late 2023, the entertainment giant has been very active, adding new directors and announcing new operating initiatives and capital improvement plans for its theme parks.

“Over the last six months, Disney’s stock has increased by about 50% and is the top performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year,” Trian said in a statement. Shares in Walt Disney Co., headquartered in Burbank, California, closed on Wednesday down 3.1%.

The activist group had previously stated that they wanted Disney to achieve financial performance similar to that of Netflix, specifically mentioning a target for Disney to raise a profit margin measure called EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — to levels of 15% to 20% in 2027.

But Disney is already operating at that level. In the quarter ending in December 2023, Disney’s EBITDA margin was 18%, according to data gathered by CapitalIQ. For the previous fiscal year, ending in September, Disney’s EBITDA margin was 16.5%, according to the same data.

In November 2022, Disney announced that Iger would return to the company as its CEO, replacing his chosen successor, Bob Chapek, whose two-year period had been characterized by conflicts, mistakes, and declining financial performance.

Iger had been the public face of Disney for 15 years as CEO before passing the role to Chapek in 2020, during which time Iger achieved many successes praised by the entertainment industry and Disney fans. However, his second stint as CEO has not received the same level of praise.

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