George Lucas backs Disney board, Bob Iger amid proxy fight

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The film producer, who sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, is the media company’s largest individual shareholder

Star Wars mastermind George Lucas – Disney’s largest individual shareholder – has issued a statement supporting Disney’s board and CEO Bob Iger, two activist investors calling on Mouse House investors to take seats on the media company’s board. The groups have been urged to reject the bids.

“Making magic is not for amateurs,” Lucas said in a statement released Tuesday. “When I sold Lucasfilm a decade ago, I was delighted to become a shareholder of Disney because of its iconic brand and my long-standing admiration for Bob Iger’s leadership.”

Lucas added, “When Bob recently returned to the company during a difficult time, I was relieved. No one knows Disney better. I remain a valued shareholder because I have full confidence and trust in the strength of Disney and Bob’s track record of driving long-term value. I have voted all of my shares for Disney’s 12 directors and urge other shareholders to do the same.

Under Iger, Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, a deal under which Lucas received 37.1 million Disney shares. Lucas, who founded the company in 1971, has an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is Disney’s largest individual shareholder, according to sources familiar with the company.

At Disney’s 2024 annual shareholders meeting, which will be held virtually on April 3, investors will vote on rival board nominees — Disney’s own 12-member lineup, two nominees from Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners (Peltz and ex-Disney CFO Jay Rasulo) or investment from three firms, Blackwells Capital. Peltz, for one, has argued that Disney’s stock has underperformed the market and that the company needs to adopt and execute more urgent strategies to drive sustained and profitable growth.

Lucas’ comment that “making magic is not for amateurs” may be a reference to Disney’s point that Peltz admitted he had no media experience. The filmmaker’s statement comes as Disney wins over other supporters in the board battle. On Monday, independent proxy voting advisory firm Glass Lewis released a report recommending Disney shareholders vote for Disney’s 12 director nominees.

Last month, Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney’s grandchildren issued an open letter criticizing the campaigns of activist investors threatening to shake up the Disney board and throwing their support behind Iger and the current board.

Disney previously said it opposed the candidates nominated by Tryon and the Blackwells because they lack “the appropriate range of talent, skill, perspective and/or expertise” and urged shareholders to vote for its own 12 nominees. Have done.

Disney issued Peltz’s strongest rebuttal to date in a video last week, calling the proxy fight being waged by Trian “disruptive and destructive” and saying that Peltz’s “discovery is also a loss of faith in Disney.” Seems more about vanity than comparison. Why else would he sell 500,000 Disney shares in the last six months in the middle of his proxy fight?” Trian Partners controls approximately $3.5 billion worth of Disney stock, 79% of which is owned by ex-Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, whom Disney has accused of holding a long-standing personal grudge against Iger.

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