JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon gives support to Disney’s Bob Iger in activist investor fight

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JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon involved himself in the Disney-Trian Fund Management proxy fight by expressing his support for CEO Bob Iger.

Dimon told CNBC on Wednesday that Iger was a “first-class executive and outstanding leader” who “knows the media and entertainment business cold and has the successful track record to prove it.”

“It’s a complicated industry filled with creative talent, requiring the unique expertise and engagement skills that Bob possesses,” the bank CEO continued, according to the outlet. “Putting people on a board unnecessarily can harm a company. I don’t know why shareholders would take that risk, especially given the significant progress the company has made since Bob came back.”

The latest proxy fight between the entertainment giant and Trian Fund Management’s Nelson Peltz kicked off late last year. Trian and affiliates have a stake in Disney worth about $3.5 billion.

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The firm has argued that Disney has experienced “chronic underperformance” in its financials and directed the blame at its board. It alleged the board has fallen short in strategy oversight, capital allocation, culture, succession planning, executive compensation and other areas in a recently released white paper. 

On top of calling for changes at the company, Trian put forward Peltz and former Disney CFO James Rasulo as its nominees to Disney’s board in mid-December to help “restore the magic” at the entertainment giant. It has continued to push for seats for the duo since.

Disney World entrance

In response to Dimon’s backing of Iger, Trian said in a press release that Disney “appears to be leaning on its investment bankers and commercial partners for public endorsements, when this campaign should be focused not on statements of highly compensated bankers and service providers, but on how shareholders can ensure good governance and oversight from the Board.”

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FOX Business also reached out to Disney regarding Dimon but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Disney has previously pushed back on Trian’s slew of criticisms, in addition to arguing its “strategic transformation is working” and its board and management “are delivering on our commitments to create superior, sustainable shareholder value.” It has also questioned the qualifications of Trian’s nominees in comparison to its own board nominees, who it said were “best qualified” for overseeing the company.

Bob Iger

Peltz and Trian previously engaged in a proxy fight with Disney and Iger that ended in February of last year. Its end coincided with Disney revealing plans to curb costs through layoffs and other measures and to reshuffle the company.

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In a filing this week, Disney said it was “on track” to achieve its increased annualized savings target of $7.5 billion.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DIS THE WALT DISNEY CO. 112.55 +0.10 +0.09%

The shareholder meeting where the current proxy battle will come to a head is slated to take place in early April.

Disney’s board nominees for that vote include Mary Barra, Safra Catz, Amy Chang, Jeremy Carroch, Carolyn Everson, Michael Froman, James Gorman, Maria Lagomasino, Calvin McDonald, Mark Park, Derica Rice and Iger.

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