Disney Has Enough Votes to Defeat Activist Investor Nelson Peltz’s Board Candidates: Report

Disney had won enough of the shareholder votes cast for its 12 board candidates as of Tuesday evening to successfully defeat an aggressive, months-long proxy fight waged by Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners hedge fund, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.

Enough votes had been cast as of Tuesday evening to put Disney’s board directors “safely ahead” of Trian’s two nominees for the board — Peltz and ex-Disney CFO Jay Rasulo — per the Reuters report. In addition, the three board candidates proposed by investment firm Blackwells Capital failed to win enough votes, according to the report.

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The official vote counts will be announced at Disney’s 2024 annual meeting of shareholders, which will be held virtually Wednesday, April 3, starting at 10 a.m. PT. Eligible shareholders have been able to cast their votes prior to the meeting online, via mail or by telephone. Shareholders may vote at the meeting but Disney had “strongly” encouraged them to do so by 11:59 p.m. ET on April 2.

SEE ALSO: Disney Board Showdown: What’s at Stake at Contentious 2024 Shareholder Meeting

Sources cautioned that some shareholders may change their vote Wednesday, the Reuters report noted. The report comes after a Wall Street Journal article said Disney’s board slate was leading with more than half of shareholder votes cast. Index fund manager Vanguard, which owns 7.8% of Disney’s outstanding share, planned to vote for the Mouse House’s candidates over Trian’s nominees, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday, citing anonymous sources. In addition, two other Disney institutional investors — BlackRock (which owns about 4.2% of outstanding shares) and T. Rowe Price (0.5%) — were said to support the Disney-backed directors.

On Tuesday, a T. Rowe Price spokesperson confirmed to Variety that more than 99% of the shares the asset-management firm owns have voted for all of Disney’s recommended nominees, including the two incumbent directors — Maria Elena Lagomasino and Michael Froman — which Trian had urged investors to kick off the board.

Peltz’s Trian controls some 32 million Disney shares (1.8% of the outstanding total), 79% of which are owned by former Marvel Entertainment chief Ike Perlmutter (who has a “longstanding personal agenda” against Iger, according to Disney).

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