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Disney: Bob Iger wins boardroom showdown after seeing off activist investor Nelson Peltz

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MAY 29: Bob Iger speaks onstage during the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Media Preview at the Disneyland Resort on May 29, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MAY 29: Bob Iger speaks onstage during the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Media Preview at the Disneyland Resort on May 29, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Disney has won a showdown against the activist investor and billionaire Nelson Peltz, ending one of the most closely watched boardroom challenges in history.

Shareholders voted by a “substantial margin” to elect all 12 nominees recommended by the Disney board, instead of those put forward by agitators Blackwells Capital and Peltz’s Trian Fund Management.

Peltz, one of the most prominent American activist investors, had spent months demanding changes at the company and had called on shareholders to appoint him and former CFO Jay Rasulo to the board.

He claimed Disney had “lost its way over the past decade” and that “the root cause” of its under performance is a “board that lacks focus, alignment and accountability.”

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Today’s vote was seen as a gauge of faith in Bob Iger, Disney’s veteran chief executive who led the major acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm during a more than two-decades long stint in the top job.

Iger returned from retirement in 2022 after shares in the Magic Kingdom tumbled 40 per cent amid a contest with rival Netflix.

“I want to thank our shareholders for their trust and confidence in our Board and management,” he said today.

“With the distracting proxy contest now behind us, we’re eager to focus 100 per cent of our attention on our most important priorities: growth and value creation for our shareholders and creative excellence for our consumers.”

Iger, whose contract runs until 2026, has cut costs by around $7.5bn during his second tenure. The firm has also reinstated its dividend, following a suspension lasting more than three years.

Heading into the vote, he received backing from the CEO of JPMorgan Jamie Dimon, as well as major sharheolders George Lucas and Laurene Powell Jobs.

Mark Parker, Board Chairman at Disney, said: “We are immensely grateful to our shareholders for their investment in Disney and their belief in its future, particularly during this period of great change in the broader entertainment industry.

“We are fortunate to have a highly qualified Board of Directors who possess a profound commitment to the enduring strength of this company and an enormous amount of experience and expertise, including succession planning.”