Activist investor Nelson Peltz declares Disney proxy fight is over after Iger unveils restructuring

Disney proxy fight is over, says billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz

Nelson Peltz declared his proxy fight with Disney was over Thursday after the entertainment giant unveiled a vast restructuring plan, cost cuts and 7,000 layoffs.

“Now Disney plans to do everything we wanted them to do,” Peltz told Jim Cramer on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Thursday. “We wish the very best to Bob [Iger], this management team and the board. We will be watching. We will be rooting.”

“The proxy fight is over,” said Peltz, who heads Trian Fund Management. He had been seeking a board seat.

Disney said it appreciated Peltz’s decision.

“We are pleased that our Board and management can remain focused without the distraction of a proxy contest, and we have tremendous faith in Bob Iger’s leadership and the transformative vision for Disney’s future he set forth yesterday,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

In January, Trian launched a proxy fight with Disney, pushing for Peltz to gain a seat on the board. The activist firm said at the time it owned about 9.4 million shares valued at roughly $900 million, which it first accumulated a few months prior.

Peltz had criticized Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of Fox in 2019 and failed succession planning. He had also called out “weak corporate governance” over the years that has eroded shareholder value.

The activist investor raised the white flag on Thursday after Disney announced a sweeping reorganization this week. The company said that it would be looking to slash $5.5 billion in costs, and will cut 7,000 jobs.

Disney is also restructuring its business into three divisions, and will focus on bringing its streaming business to profitability by 2024. In addition, Iger said he aimed to ask the board to approve the reinstatement of its dividend–which had been suspended since early 2020 due to the pandemic–by the end of the calendar year.

The changes, which were part of Iger’s first major actions since he returned to the helm of Disney in November, addressed many of Peltz’s concerns.

Disney’s annual shareholder meeting is set for April 3.

–CNBC’s David Faber contributed to this report.

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