Disney took by surprise the return of activist investor Nelson Peltz: source | spcilvly

Disney’s (DIS) management team may have something in common with Snow White star Sleepy.

“They were caught off guard,” a person familiar with the matter told Yahoo Finance of Trian Fund Management Nelson Peltz’s latest activist attack on the bumbling media conglomerate.

As Disney stock falls to new 52-week lows, billionaire Peltz returns to the fray to take on superstar CEO Bob Iger.

Peltz is seeking several positions on Disney’s board of directors, including one for himself, the person familiar with the Trian CEO’s thinking said. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Peltz’s decision, which included increasing Trian’s stake in Disney.

The board nomination period begins December 5 and continues through January 4. But the situation at Disney is so concerning that Peltz didn’t see the need to wait until December, the person said.

Trian now has a stake believed to be valued at about $2.5 billion, making him one of Disney’s largest investors.

According to the source, no meeting between Peltz and Iger is planned.

Iger may have been caught off guard by the return of frequent critic Peltz for one simple reason: Peltz withdrew his controversial campaign against the company in February.

At the time, Peltz said in a television interview that “Disney plans to do everything we wanted them to do.” Perhaps foreshadowing the latest move, Peltz added in the interview: “We’ll be watching.”

Since then, however, it’s been a comedy of errors at Disney (or a horror movie).

First, Disney stock is down 26% since Peltz stopped his campaign against Disney. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which Disney is a part, has fallen 2.4%.

Meanwhile, following the widespread layoffs at Disney enacted by Iger this year, investors remain on tenterhooks over the next restructuring move.

Iger said in July he would take a “broad” look at Disney’s traditional TV assets, a signal to Wall Street that a sale of linear TV channels is on the cards amid growing consumer cord-cutting. .

Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, attends the nominees luncheon for the 95th Oscars in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., February 13, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

No update has been provided from Disney since. Iger has said that he does not want to get rid of the ESPN brand.

Other fears include that Disney could overpay to buy its stake in Hulu from Comcast; Discussions between the two sides have reportedly begun.

The lack of information may well confuse investors.

“I think hearing an industry leader like Bob Iger acknowledge that everything needs to be put on the table right now shows how seriously they’re taking this,” Goldman Sachs media analyst Brett Feldman said on Yahoo Finance Live. (video above). ).

“It’s a real signal to people that they are going to do what it takes so Disney can have another hundred years of success,” Feldman added.

Disney has not responded to Yahoo Finance’s request for comment.

Brian Sozzi is the executive editor of Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and in LinkedIn. Advice on deals, mergers, activist situations or anything else? Send an email to brian.sozzi@yahoofinance.com.

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