• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

Disney Wins Shareholder Proxy Battle, ESPN Stays on Iger-Led Path

  • The ESPN parent company defeated activist investor Peltz by ‘a substantial margin.’
  • A recent escalation in the stock helped advance the arguments made by CEO Bob Iger.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Disney has secured a critical victory in its shareholder proxy fight against billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, allowing the ESPN parent to continue largely on its current strategy of navigating an unprecedented wave of media disruption. 

Following months of accelerating run-up, Disney shareholders firmly rejected a bid Wednesday by Peltz to gain two board seats, affirming the company’s entire recommended slate of 12 directors, including current CEO Bob Iger (above), by what Disney termed “a substantial margin.” The board, as a result, stays populated by Iger-friendly directors, and all but one were appointed on his watch.

Peltz had argued Disney needs to be far more aggressive on multiple business fronts, such as a succession plan for Iger, clarifying ESPN’s digital strategy, overhauling the company’s TV and movie business, and bundling ESPN+ and Netflix. Instead, the shareholder vote marks a strong affirmation for the company’s existing plan, which includes Iger stepping down at the end of 2026. 

For ESPN, that existing plan also includes the development of a stand-alone, direct-to-consumer version of the network debuting next year, a new sports betting partnership with Penn Entertainment, a potential partial equity sale, and a much-debated streaming joint venture with Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery. That DTC version of ESPN will also be made available through Disney+, the company said in its annual shareholder meeting.

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

Disney Arguments

Strongly boosting the case for Iger and Disney’s current strategy is a marked escalation in the company’s stock, which is up by more than a third so far this year. But that momentum did not continue Wednesday as shares closed down more than 3% to $118.98 each.

Despite the loss, Peltz and his Trian Fund Management still claimed some credit for influencing Disney’s current trajectory.

“We are proud of the impact we have had in refocusing the company on value creation and good governance,” Trian said. 

Iger, meanwhile, also lauded the ongoing rise of women’s sports, citing record viewership generated Monday on ESPN for March Madness, and said he’s “never been more bullish” on women’s sports than he is now.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Chapter Officially Opens as No. 1 Overall Pick

Clark’s professional career is starting as a member of the Indiana Fever.

Star-Studded NBA Play-In a Potential Ratings Boon for ESPN and TNT

The initial portion of the NBA postseason features three former MVPs.

Knicks’ Resurgence Marks Peak in Dolan’s Sports Domain

The team’s on-court success is fueling a series of gains off it.

States Want Tax Reform As Ohtani’s Deal Deferrals Stir Controversy

California legislators heighten their push for new tax rules around deferred compensation.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy Make Media Moves


Featured Today

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.
Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.
March 31, 2024

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dunham's Sports
Multiple - USA Careers
April 12, 2024

Lawsuit Alleges ‘Fraudulent Coup’ at Former ‘Sports Illustrated’ Publisher

A messy situation just keeps getting messier.
April 14, 2024

Calling the Masters Can Make You—or Break You

Legends are made at Augusta—as long as they do things Augusta’s way.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 10, 2024

The Masters’ Broadcasters Take What They Can Get

During the first two rounds, ESPN’s coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET.
April 8, 2024

Sports Media Game-Changer? Skydance Eyes CBS Parent in $5B Deal

The two sides have agreed to a month of exclusive talks.
April 8, 2024

South Carolina’s Title Win Smashes Ratings Records in Caitlin Clark’s Finale

The NCAA title game became the most-watched women’s college basketball game.
April 8, 2024

WNBA Commish Wants New Media-Rights Deal to Double Old One

The media-rights deal expires in 2025 to coincide with the Caitlin Clark effect.