Walt and Roy O. Disney's Grandchildren throw their support behind Bob Iger and the Disney board

Mar 01, 2024 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Friday March 1, 2024 7:25am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

In a display of solidarity and commitment to The Walt Disney Company's heritage, the grandchildren of both Roy O. and Walt Disney have come forward with public letters to the company's shareholders expressing their support of CEO Bob Iger and the Walt Disney Co. board of directors.

 

In their letter, the grandchildren of Roy O. Disney speak about the company's origins, emphasizing Disney's unique legacy of creating magical experiences. They voice strong support for Disney CEO Bob Iger and the current leadership, warning against the dangers posed by activist investors who, they argue, lack a genuine understanding and appreciation of Disney's core values. They describe activist investors as "really wolves in sheep's clothing, just waiting to tear Disney apart if they can trick shareholders into opening the door for them."

Echoing this sentiment, the family of Walt Disney, including Walter Elias Disney Miller, Tamara Diane Miller, Jennifer Miller-Goff, and Joanna Sharon Miller, issued a letter supporting the company's management and Board of Directors. They specifically oppose the nominations by Nelson Peltz, which is a clear stance against changes they believe could undermine the company's integrity. They commend Bob Iger for balancing creativity with profitability, acknowledging the company's ability to adapt and thrive even in challenging times.

The letters of support from the Disney family come at a time when The Trian Group, which owns more than $3 billion in shares of The Walt Disney Company, is urging Disney shareholders to withhold votes for board members, Mr. Froman and Ms. Lagomasino, and vote to appoint its own Nelson Peltz and former Disney executive Jay Rasulo to the board.

You can read both letters in full below.

An Open Letter to Shareholders of The Walt Disney Company

As the grandchildren of Roy O. Disney, we grew up with a front row seat to the magic that fuels the remarkable company he and his brother Walt Disney built together. We spent our childhoods on the studio lot watching movies get made. We explored Disneyland with the creative geniuses behind the happiest place on earth. We saw the passion Walt and Roy had for creating life-long memories for children and families, and the infectious joy they got out of the work they did.

From Mickey and Minnie, to Snow White and Mary Poppins, Disney is not a company that makes widgets - it makes magic. And it takes a special group of leaders with a deep respect and understanding for this tradition to develop the kinds of incredible experiences - whether in a theme park, at a movie theatre, or in your own home - that touch people's hearts.
Bob Iger, his management team, and the Board of Directors are faithful to this magic. They understand that the longevity of The Walt Disney Company isn't only the result of smart business decisions; it is rooted in the strong emotional connection Disney continues to forge with generations of people from around the globe.

We may not agree about everything, but we know that our grandfather would be especially proud of what Disney means to the world today. We also know that, like us, he would be very concerned by the threat posed by self-anointed "activist investors" who are really wolves in sheep's clothing, just waiting to tear Disney apart if they can trick shareholders into opening the door for them.

What concerns us most about these hedge-fund-backed opportunists is that they have little to no knowledge of what Disney truly means to people like you. They haven't made any arguments for why they should be entrusted with the keys to the kingdom our family built. To the contrary, their "I alone can fix it" mentality makes clear that they are not interested in preserving the Disney magic, but stripping it to the bone to make a quick profit for themselves.

We're old enough to remember the bitter episode four decades ago when another corporate raider, Saul Steinberg - who, as it so happens, was good friends with one of the current activists, Nelson Peltz
- launched a hostile takeover attempt of Disney and threatened to break apart the company. He was defeated, much as these activists must be defeated today.

This is not a company of interchangeable parts. It is home to thousands and thousands of dedicated employees who share the same passion Walt and Roy had for bringing hope and happiness to people through the magic of storytelling. Disney is lucky to be led by people who are looking to the future while drawing guidance from our cherished past. As The Walt Disney Company charts its path forward, it is imperative that the strategy Bob Iger, his management team, and the Board of Directors have implemented is not disrupted by those motivated by nothing more than their own self-interest.

Disney stories are filled with heroes and villains. We know who the villains are in this story, and we know they cannot be entrusted with protecting this company's rich legacy or guiding its bright future.

Sincerely,

Roy P. Disney
Susan Disney Lord Abigail E. Disney Tim Disney

To the Shareholders of The Walt Disney Company,

As the family of Walt Disney, we support The Walt Disney Company management and its Board of Directors, and oppose the nominations put forth by Nelson Peltz.

The integrity in the name of Walt Disney has always been a priority to our family. Our mother - Diane Disney Miller, Walt's eldest daughter - created The Walt Disney Family Museum to ensure that the history of her father's life and those involved in the creation of his dreams would be honored and remembered. We still believe in this brand of integrity and storytelling.

Bob Iger has grown this company in a modern world, and he continues to maintain a balance of creativity and profit. It is still a company based on the desire to entertain and explore. There have been challenging times, but this current management has adjusted and grown through those challenges.

We are never without gratitude and pride for our grandfather and being a part of this family, and we will always cherish the memories and the life that we had with him. With this gratitude, it matters to us what the company does and how Walt Disney is represented.

As such, we support Bob Iger and The Walt Disney Company Board.

Sincerely,
Walter Elias Disney Miller
Tamara Diane Miller
Jennifer Miller-Goff
Joanna Sharon Miller
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Sirwalterraleigh1 hour ago

He got 30% That’s about what was expected the day of the vote when the dust settled Nobody withheld their votes for the current board - which was the best move. Now you get what you get. Prepare to be amazed 😎

Disney Analyst5 hours ago

Sirwalterraleigh5 days ago

I don’t disagree with you… But the takeaway is the same: preserving the power of the seats and one executive was the goal and that was where it ended. Now let’s see if the funds and rating agencies got hoodwinked? They repeated “succession” over and over again. It is an accurate opinion piece. Some opinions are accurate. Some saying that only the guy responsible for the problems can save them from the problems are a bit more of a stretch.

Dranth5 days ago

That article is mostly an opinion piece. The two facts I could find are: 1. Disney used a non-standard method of ROI calculation using revenue instead of profit. 2. Disney spelled out how they were doing the calculation so no one should be surprised by this. Personally, I doubt changing the calculation method would have much impact on how the vote went but it does make you wonder just how lazy everyone really is. Did no one in Peltz whole organization bother to read the material being put out? Did no large scale, institutional investors read it? If not, why do we trust our retirements to these people again? End of the day, I think most investors had made up their mind long before the propaganda came out because the whole thing ended up as a referendum on Peltz and all these large investors are already familiar with his work.

Sirwalterraleigh5 days ago

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinereid/2024/04/03/revealed-how-disneys-financial-wizardry-boosted-its-return-on-investment/?sh=7f7ccc039601 Here’s Forbes saying “someone” in the higher ups manipulate the numbers and message to make an nonsensical argument to sell to investors… …but how could that be?

HauntedPirate5 days ago

It depends on what formula Disney uses for ROI. I mean, they did create their own, at least in their fight against Peltz...

Brian5 days ago

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/bob-iger-nelson-peltz-disney-proxy-board-1235870436/

Chip Chipperson9 days ago

He didn't want Parks spending scrutinized for quality. He wanted it scrutinized for ROI. His words, not my interpretation. In what way does that focus on "restoring the magic?" Here's what he wanted for the parks: Parks and Experiences Growth: Execute on a clear vision for Parks targeting at least high-single digit operating income growth to ensure adequate returns on ~$60 billion of capex https://variety.com/2024/biz/news/nelson-peltz-trian-disney-proxy-fight-votes-to-win-1235876463/amp/ Does that sound like someone looking to support meaningful expansion and stop "nickel and diming" guests? How do you measure ROI for a new ride? The easiest way would be through ILL sales. But what about a new land? An E-ticket in the land can have its ROI measured to a certain extent, but a C-ticket really can't - and since a people-eating C-ticket really doesn't have a measurable ROI, what do you think his suggestion would be? Someone demanding measurable growth from investment isn't supporting something like that. And that's before you get to the stuff included in that $60B that really can't be measured for ROI - maintenance.

MisterPenguin9 days ago

Peltz made it clear what he wanted: Dividends. He said so quite explicitly. In his own words when asked. That was his main (and probably only) concern. He thought that was sufficient to get shareholders to vote him in, since, they must be like him, desirous of wads of cash. Everything he said about 'restore the magic' was a lie, and he eventually dropped that line of blatant falsehood. He didn't care about the parks and couldn't address the parks' needs in an intelligible way. And the guy he was bringing with him for 'park cred' was actually a detriment for anyone who knew anything about the parks. He tried vilifying Iger and then suddenly stopped that line of attack when he got pushback that people (investors) liked Iger. He was left with weaksauce attacks on the Board. Attacks on things the Board was already addressing, and couldn't have addressed in the past due to buying Fox and Hulu -- and surviving cord-cutting and the loss of the huge amount of revenue that linear/cable TV brought in. Not to mentions TWDC was hampered by losing out of $20B in profit that did not materialize because of a world wide pandemic. Not to mention that Peltz said aloud the pretty racist and misogynist things that Perlmutter believed. Peltz only made traction with people who blinded themselves to the issues TWDC faced with the pandemic and the major shifts in entertainment. The kind of people who think that Disney has magical reserves of cash and should have just kept everything the same as the world changed. People who are stuck with magical thinking in that what they want to truth to be, they assume it to be true, even when it isn't. Pretty foolish.

LSLS9 days ago

This right here. Just sneaky wording. He's not saying pay more, he wants to review the creative process, and transparency on what is being spent, and the returns expected on it. The fact he brought in Rasulo should be enough of a red flag.

Kamikaze9 days ago

He DOES NOT ever advocate for increasing spending on the parks. He advocates for scrutinizing the $60b promised investments. (So he can later advocate against spending it.) Those two things are NOT the same. And you really think they are, and you're not just trolling, I feel sad for you. And if you're talking about him saying 'they should have spent more before' ... then wow, I don't know how to explain to you how you're literally the person that he was trying to target with his BS.

James Alucobond9 days ago

And all change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. Peltz's motives were incredibly transparent. If you choose to ignore all that he's ever done, who he allied himself with, what the meaning was behind what he said he wanted to do, and how much of a personal grudge he and his associates had against TWDC, then, well, okay. But you can't expect the majority of people to do so.

Lilofan10 days ago

The " many " who.oppose Peltz was a lost cause. The shareholders spoke loud and clear when all said and done.

el_super10 days ago

Personally? Yeah. I think they are still underpriced for the level of attendance we are seeing. But really I want to hear the explanation of how the above makes sense. If Peltz was going to stop the overcharging in the parks (lower revenue) and somehow also still spend 60 billion on new park product, what exactly was supposed to be in it for the investors? At that point why would any serious investors vote for him? The same thing that has always happened. There will be a balance between shareholder needs and customer needs and Disney will find a spot in the middle. The kind of compromise where no one really wins or loses.