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Darroch joins Disney board as it braces for activist fight

November 30, 2023

Disney is bracing for another proxy battle with the activist investor Nelson Peltz. James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, and Jeremy Darroch, who formerly ran Sky, the British television company, will join Disney’s board early in 2024, according to a securities filing.

“Their appointments reflect Disney’s commitment to a strong board focused on the long-term performance of the company, strategic growth initiatives, the succession planning process and increasing shareholder value,” Disney said in a statement.

The board reinforcements were announced as multiple activist investors are sharpening knives, reports NYT. Most notably, they include Peltz, who has been lobbying for seats on Disney’s board and is aligned with Ike Perlmutter, a disgruntled former employee who is one of Disney’s largest independent shareholders. Perlmutter, who sold Marvel Entertainment to Disney in 2009, was pushed out of the company in March.

“We have to obviously contend with them in some form,” Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said about activist investors earlier on November 29th at the DealBook Summit. “I’m certain that the board will hear them out in terms of what their plans are, what their ideas are.”

Pelz and Perlmutter have been planning a new fight for board seats — the nominating window opens on December 5th and runs until January 4th — and have cited Disney’s languishing stock price as a reason. Disney shares are up about 13 per cent from early last month but down about 48 per cent from a March 2021 high.

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