Michael Eisner Voices Support for Disney Board and Bob Iger in Proxy Fight

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Another prominent voice is weighing in with support for Disney CEO Bob Iger and the company’s board of directors in its proxy fight with Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners.

Michael Eisner, Iger’s predecessor as CEO of the company, released a statement Friday that calls back to the 1984 activist campaign from Peltz’s fellow corporate raider Saul Steinberg, and warning that “bringing in someone who doesn’t have experience in the company or the industry to disrupt Bob and his eventual successor is playing not only with fire but earthquakes and hurricanes as well.”

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“In 1983, Disney was under attack by corporate raiders trying to take over the company. That would have ended the Disney Company as we know it, for the studio, theme parks, and hotels were suggested to be sold off,” Eisner wrote. “The board turned to me and Frank Wells, and a different story was written, one that was continued by Bob Iger and his executive team. Today, a similar situation exists, so let’s remember the lessons from 40 years ago. Bringing in someone who doesn’t have experience in the company or the industry to disrupt Bob and his eventual successor is playing not only with fire but earthquakes and hurricanes as well. The company is now in excellent hands and Disney shareholders should vote for the Disney slate.”

Eisner joins a growing list of high-profile public figures to throw public support behind Iger and the Disney board ahead of the April 3 shareholder meeting. Just this week, Star Wars creator George Lucas, who sold his company to Disney for $4 billion, released a statement of support, writing that “creating magic is not for amateurs.”

And Laurene Powell Jobs, the philanthropist, Emerson Collective founder and widow of Steve Jobs, wrote that “there is no one who understands Disney’s important legacy or the responsibility to protect it more than Bob Iger.”

Perhaps most significantly, the families of Walt Disney and Roy Disney released letters of support, noting Steinberg’s 1984 proxy fight. In the letters, they call Peltz one of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and also one of the “villains” in a Disney story.

But the week also saw the influential advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommend a vote for Nelson Peltz, in a setback for Disney’s board.

Eisner, of course, had a critical proxy fight of his own in 2004, when Roy E. Disney led a fight that ultimately saw Eisner lose his chairman title.

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