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Nelson Peltz renews proxy fight against Disney

By Krystal Hur, CNN

New York (CNN) — Activist shareholder Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management has launched a new proxy fight against Disney, just months after backing off from its earlier push after returned chief executive Bob Iger announced a vast cost-cutting plan for the media conglomerate.

“Investor confidence is low, key strategic questions loom, and even Disney’s CEO is acknowledging that the Company’s challenges are greater than previously believed,” Trian said in a press release Thursday.

Trian declined to comment on how many seats it is seeking on Disney’s board, but said in the release that Disney has turned down its request for representation, including for Peltz.

Disney shares rose 0.2% Thursday afternoon.

Trian’s reignition of its proxy fight comes a day after Disney revealed a shuffle to its board, with Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman and former CEO of Sky Jeremy Darroch to join as new directors.

In response to the additions, Trian said that the moves do not “restore investor confidence or address the root cause behind the significant value destruction and missteps that this Board has overseen.”

“The Walt Disney Company has a proven track record of delivering long-term value to our shareholders and is in the midst of a significant transformation,” Disney said in a statement.

Peltz in January launched a bid for a seat on Disney’s board after the company fired Bob Chapek in November 2022. The former chief executive’s tenure was short and tumultuous, sparking criticism particularly for his handling of the company’s battle with Florida and its own employees on the state’s bill restricting teaching of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms.

The final nail in the coffin for Chapek, who was chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products before succeeding Iger’s first run as chief executive, was seemingly the company’s fourth-quarter earnings reported last November, which missed expectations on Wall Street in part due to a $1.5 billion loss in its streaming segment.

In February, Peltz dropped his efforts to join the board after Iger laid out a plan to slash over $5 billion in costs by implementing layoffs, streamlining the company’s operations and dismantling Chapek’s reorganization of Disney — initiatives in line with Trian’s demands.

“We wish the very best to [Iger], this management team and the board. We will be watching,” Peltz said on CNBC shortly after the conclusion of Iger’s TV interview in February, where the chief executive laid out his cost-cutting plan, addressed right-wing criticism of Disney and his decision to return to the company.

Iger told a crowd of Disney employees on Tuesday that he’s ready to build the company back up after a year of “fixing things.”

“I knew that there were myriad challenges that I would face coming back,” Iger said. “I won’t say that it was easy, but I’ve never second guessed the decision to come back, and being back still feels great.”

— CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.

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