June 23, 2024

Activist investor Nelson Peltz has amassed a $2.5 billion stake in Walt Disney Co. and is preparing to make a second run at pressuring the company to grant him with board seats, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Peltz’s Trian Fund Management is responding to the steady slide in Disney shares, which are down about 16% for the year to date. In January, Trian unleashed a targeted campaign to criticize Disney’s corporate management and recent under-performance of the stock. Peltz pushed to have himself added to the Disney board.

But by Feb. 9, Trian had reached a detente with Disney, which at the time was re-adjusting to the return of Bob Iger as CEO in November 2022, which followed a rocky nearly three-year tenure for Bob Chapek. Peltz withdrew his bid for the board seat after Disney unveiled a broad restructuring of operations and made other commitments to streamline company operations. Iger in July floated the trial balloon of possibly selling ABC and other linear TV assets , and it’s no secret the company has been considering partnership options for ESPN.

Peltz’s decision to revive his campaign comes after he has steadily increased his stake in Disney in recent months, according to WSJ. Disney, like other media giants, has struggled with the accelerated transition from linear to streaming platforms that have up-ended how studios make money from content. The industry has also endured a rough summer of dual strikes by the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA.

In January, Trian took aim in its investor materials at Disney’s operational and strategic thinking, as well as “over the top” compensation practices and not enough cost discipline around new streaming businesses. Peltz also faulted Disney for its failed succession process and for “overpaying” for 21st Century Fox in 2019.

Representatives for Disney and Trian did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Sunday.

Disney shares closed Friday at $82.94, which was up nearly 3%. In January, shares traded in the $110-$113 range.

(Pictured: Nelson Peltz, Bob Iger)

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