Ladies and gentlemen, billionaire and corporate agitator Nelson Peltz is back – and he’s once again joined by former Marvel executive Ike Perlmutter. This time, Perlmutter lets his own (substantial) Disney shares do the talking – via Peltz’s Trian Fund Management.
Trian now has sole voting rights over 33 million Disney shares, most of which come from Perlmutter. He became one of Disney’s largest independent shareholders when he sold Marvel to Disney in 2009 (he got a lot of cash and stock and a job – but no board seat). Perlmutter believes the shares should be worth more than they are.
These days, Disney trades for about $80 a share; In March 2021, it approached the $200 mark. To address this inequality, Peltz and Perlmutter want Disney to cut spending, reduce executive pay and bring some Trian people onto the Disney board. The two are pushing for “multiple” seats on the Disney board The Wall Street Journal reported; one would be for Peltz. Perlmutter says he personally doesn’t want a seat or a job.
“When I was employed at Disney, I did not feel comfortable publicly expressing my views on the company and its performance,” the former Marvel Entertainment CEO told the WSJ. “As someone who has a strong commercial stake in Disney’s success, I can no longer stand by and allow the company to fail to realize its great potential.”
Disney did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment for this story. Disney declined to comment to the WSJ.
Peltz began his career at his family’s trucking company, made a lot of money in vending machines and eventually bought Snapple. He is already a non-executive chairman of Wendy’s, Sysco and the Madison Square Garden Company and a major investor in Heinz, Cadbury, Kraft and Pepsi, among others.
Perlmutter was the Marvel executive who wanted Marvel Studios to reduce the budgets (and running times) of its films. Creatives at Marvel, including studio boss Kevin Fiege, did not welcome the notes. Ultimately, Disney CEO Bob Iger sided with Fiege. Perlmutter remained in charge of the company’s comics division until his firing in March 2023.
“I have no doubt that my termination was based on fundamental business differences between my mindset and that of Disney leadership because I care about return on investment,” Perlmutter said at the time.
Peltz and Perlmutter tried this last year when they joined forces in a similar effort to bring Peltz onto the board. At the time, Bob Chapek was Disney’s CEO and ally, and Trian had invested about $500 million and amassed about 9 million Disney shares. Before Peltz and Perlmutter made any progress, Chapek was fired and Iger was reinstated.
Peltz dropped out of his own campaign after Iger announced a reorganization of Disney that would cut $5.5 billion in costs and 7,000 jobs. Iger also said dividends for shareholders would return for the first time since 2020.
In February, Peltz stated that he was “watching” and “cheering on” Iger 2.0 and that “the proxy fight is over.” It appears that the truce is now over, and this time Perlmutter is putting his word into action.