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Activist investor urges Disney to add Trian’s Nelson Peltz to its board

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Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Activist investor Ancora on Tuesday urged Disney to put Nelson Peltz on its board, days after Peltz and his firm, Trian, launched a proxy fight with the entertainment giant.

“In an effort to avert an election contest following a year of distractions and disappointing performance, we hope you join us in encouraging the Board to pursue a viable compromise with Trian Fund Management, L.P. and Nelson Peltz,” Ancora wrote in the letter. “Mr. Peltz (or a qualified designee) would make a fantastic addition to Disney’s Board.”

Ancora also suggested that much of Disney’s difficulties in recent years — including streaming losses and and several box office flops — could be pinned on the company board.

“A degree of shareholder-driven change is certainly warranted in Disney’s boardroom following an extended period of absentminded governance, ineffective succession planning, polarizing actions and sustained value destruction,” Ancora said Tuesday. “While it has been argued that challenges largely stem from the tenure of Bob Chapek, the Board was in the driver’s seat before, during and after that time.”

Disney fired back at Trian last week, suggesting that the move was fueled by a personal grudge against Disney CEO Bob Iger held by Peltz ally and former Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter. Trian oversees about $3 billion in Disney stock, but the overwhelming bulk of the shares is owned by Perlmutter, whom Disney laid off earlier this year. Trian is seeking more than two seats on Disney’s board, which is populated by directors seen as loyal to Iger.

Ancora’s announcement Tuesday didn’t disclose the size of its stake in Disney. Ancora owned more than 60,000 shares of Disney as of September, according to FactSet. That would be equivalent to an approximately $6 million stake as of Tuesday.

Disney had a market cap of about $160 billion as of Tuesday, its shares closing down by more than 1%. The stock is up more than 4% this year, underperforming the broader S&P 500.

Disney did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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