Disney reaches info-sharing deal amid proxy battle from Nelson Peltz

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By Dan Sears

Activist investment firm ValueAct Capital Management agreed to back Walt Disney’s board nominees at its upcoming shareholder meeting as the entertainment giant looks to fight off a proxy battle from Nelson Peltz.

Disney signed an agreement to share confidential company information with ValueAct, plus consult with the San Francisco-based firm “on strategic matters, including through meeting with the Disney Board and management,” per a press release shared with The Post on Wednesday.

“ValueAct Capital has a track record of collaboration and cooperation with the companies it invests in, and its co-CEO Mason Morfit has been very constructive in the conversations we’ve had over the past year,” Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said in the notice.

In recent months, ValueAct has built a large stake in Disney.

While the exact size of ValueAct’s stake in the Mouse House is unclear, the activist investor has said it foresees Disney’s stock price trading between $120 and $190 a share, far above its $90.35-per-share price upon Wednesday’s opening bell.

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Walt Disney inked an information-sharing deal with activist investment company ValueAct Capital Management on Wednesday. ValueAct will therefore back Disney’s board nominees at its 2024 annual shareholders meeting. AP
Disney struck the deal with ValueAct as it fights off a proxy battle from rival activist investor Nelson Peltz, whose Trian Fund Management is seeking two board seats — for Peltz and former Disney CFO James Rasulo. AP

Representatives for Disney and ValueAct did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Disney’s deal with ValueAct comes at it fights off rival activist investor Peltz’s Trian Fund Management, which has accumulated roughly $3 billion worth of Disney shares as it looks to nab two board seats.

Trian — which now owns more than 30 million shares from Disney, up from 6.4 million earlier this year — renewed its push to join Disney’s board last month, nominating Peltz and former Disney Chief Financial Officer James “Jay” Rasulo.

The firm — which has over $8.5 billion under management — abandoned an earlier bid for one board seat in February, the same month Bob Iger, Disney’s then-newly-reinstated CEO, initiated a sweeping revamp that slashed 7,000 jobs as part of an effort to achieve $5.5 billion in cost savings.

Peltz — who’s worth $1.5 billion and often presents himself as a partner with constructive advice for companies — reportedly objected bringing Iger out of retirement and back into Disney’s chief role.

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Trian, which Peltz co-founded in 2005, thinks Disney shares are significantly undervalued, according to The Journal, and has been putting pressure on Iger — who signed an extension to remain at the helm of the Mouse House through 2026 — to reverse Disney’s stock decline.

Disney CEO Bob Iger was reinstated to the chief role in November 2022. Peltz reportedly objected the move, and thinks the Mouse House’s shares are undervalued. Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Iger, meanwhile, has been taking steps to increase the company’s profits, including jacking up the price of its Disney+ streaming service and cracking down on password sharing.

The increases will raised the monthly cost of ad-free Disney+ by $3, or roughly 27%, to almost $14, in October.

The cost of ad-free Hulu simultaneously rose $3, to almost $18 — a 20% hike that makes it more expensive than the most popular ad-free tier at Netflix.

Iger acknowledged that the price hikes are intended to steer consumers toward cheaper ad-supported versions of these services, whose subscription prices are not changing.

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