Disney punched back at activist investor Nelson Peltz’s bid for a board seat Tuesday, calling out his lack of experience in big media and tech.

“Peltz has no track record in large cap media or tech, no solutions to offer for the evolving media landscape,” Disney said in an investor presentation that was part of a securities filing.

The tough response comes after the Trian Fund Management boss filed a preliminary proxy statement last week that laid out plans to mount a fight for a seat on Disney’s board.

Trian, which owns less than a 5% stake in Disney valued at $900 million, raised issues with how shareholder value has declined, and was critical of management overpaying for the assets of 21st Century Fox and bidding aggressively for pay-TV giant Sky PLC.

The firm also called out poor corporate governance, including failed succession planning and Disney’s lack of engagement with Trian in the last few months.

nelson peltz
Nelson Peltz’s firm Trian is mounting a proxy fight against Disney.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Trian believes that Disney’s recent performance reflects the hard truth that it is a company in crisis with many challenges weighing on investor sentiment,” the hedge fund said in a statement last week.

However, the Disney filing said its board was in a good place to move the company forward, adding that Peltz didn’t have an understanding of the company’s business and presented no strategy to drive shareholder value.

Bob Iger, who came back as CEO in November after Bob Chapek was ousted, has vowed to focus on cost cuts and profitability after the fledgling Disney+ streaming operation became a global giant but bled money. Disney had said it expects the business to break even by 2024.

bob iger
Disney defended its longtime CEO Bob Iger, who recently returned to the company.
Getty Images for Vox Media

Last week, Disney said that while its senior leadership and board “have engaged with Mr. Peltz numerous times over the last few months, the board does not endorse the Trian Group nominee.”

Disney also named independent director and Nike Executive Chairman Mark Parker as its next chairman, replacing Susan Arnold, who will not stand for re-election.


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Tyler Cowan