April 16, 2024

Elon Musk is backing Nelson Peltz in the proxy battle for the future of Disney.

Onlookers are waiting with baited breath after the bitter voting to select Disney’s board of directors closed last night, with CEO Bob Iger‘s nominees appearing likely to win out. However, that didn’t stop X/Twitter and Tesla owner Musk taking to social media this morning to provide his two cents.

He wrote: “Nelson Peltz should definitely be on the Disney board! He would help reform the company, improve the quality of product and generally serve in the best interests of shareholders, as he has done at many other companies. This would significantly improve Disney’s share price.”

Musk clarified he is not a Disney shareholder, but pinned his first message to the top of his personal X feed. He is known to be on good terms with activist investor Peltz — in February the two were photographed together at the premiere of Lola, which was directed by and stars Peltz’s daughter, Nicola Peltz Beckham.

Musk said that should Peltz be elected to the board, he would “definitely” buy Disney shares.

He was responding to a social post by Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman, which criticized “leaks” to the press about the likely result of the vote, pointing the finger at “Disney and/or its advisors” and claiming this could have a material effect on how shareholders vote. Ackman wrote the SEC should carry out an investigation and “appropriately punish whoever is responsible for this miscarriage of shareholder governance and justice.”

The expensive boardroom battle for control of Disney has been fought ferociously over past months, with supporters of Peltz pointing to the failed succession plan that followed Iger’s first exit from Disney in 2020. Iger was returned to post after his successor, Bob Chapek, was removed.

As our analysis of the vote noted yesterday, Disney’s board selections have the support of JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, former Disney boss Michael Eisner, George Lucas, Laurene Powell Jobs and the Disney family. Crucially, news reports have suggested Disney’s second-largest shareholder, BlackRock, is backing Iger and co.

Billionaire activist Peltz — whose Trian Partners owns about 1.5% of Disney, comprising his shares and those of ally Ike Perlmutter — is vying for a seat and another former Disney bigwig, Jay Rasulo. His bid is backed by proxy advisory service ISS, top pension fund CalPERS and Egan-Jones, a smaller proxy advisor. You can add Musk to that list now, though his words came after voting ended and there’s a question of how much weight they would have carried beforehand.

Once the result of the voting is known, attention will switch to who will succeed Iger as CEO. His contract runs through 2026, with the likes of entertainment division co-chiefs Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, parks division head Josh D’Amaro and ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro all potential successors. Whatever the outcome, the proxy battle has hit both Disney and Iger’s standing.

Results of the vote will come today during Disney’s annual general meeting at 1pm ET / 10am PT.

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