Egan-Jones backs activist Peltz for Disney's board as proxy battle rages

FILE PHOTO: Toy figures of people are seen in front of the displayed Disney + logo, in this illustration
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(Reuters) - Egan-Jones has become the second proxy advisory firm to back Nelson Peltz's push for board seats at Walt Disney, the activist investor's asset management firm said on Wednesday as it takes on the entertainment conglomerate in a bitter proxy battle.

Peltz's Trian Group said Egan-Jones recommended shareholders vote for change in the composition of the entertainment conglomerate's board.

Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services, which has the power to influence hundreds of investors, had also backed Peltz last week, saying that he could ensure the board does its job and tackles questions of CEO succession and strategy.

Walt Disney and Egan-Jones did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

The fight for a seat at Disney has emerged as one of the most closely watched board battles, as the prominent activist investor, and media industry veteran Bob Iger, who was reinstated as the company's top boss two years ago, compete for control.

Disney's business model is "built for the last decade, but not forward looking and flexible enough to ensure success in the next," Trian quoted Egan-Jones as saying in a statement.

In December, Egan-Jones had questioned Disney management's adaptability to change, saying that "that the old magic will be hard to recreate."

The company's shareholders will vote on April 3 and each side has signed up prominent supporters to press its case with voters.

Iger is counting Emerson Collective founder and President Laurene Powell Jobs and "Star Wars"-creator George Lucas among his supporters.

Peltz's Trian Fund Management is looking to capture two board seats, one for Peltz and the other for former Disney finance chief Jay Rasulo. Another activist firm, Blackwells Capital, is pushing for three board seats.

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)