The Smiling Crocodile, Nelson Peltz, wants you to think he owns 30 million Disney shares, now worth $2.8 billion. That’s what he leaked to The Wall Street Journal on October 8—the day after Hamas attacked Israel. Then, on October 14, the Journal reported that Peltz, who controls the activist hedge fund Trian Fund Management, had upped his shares in Disney to 32.9 million shares, worth nearly $3.1 billion. If it were true, that would make Peltz and Trian one of Disney’s largest shareholders, with the power to exert substantial pressure on Bob Iger and the Disney board. (Though he would still own far fewer shares than the company’s two largest shareholders, State Street and BlackRock, which each owned more than 100 million shares, according to Disney’s 2023 proxy statement.)
But it’s not true. According to Trian’s latest 13F, as filed with the S.E.C. on November 14, Peltz and Trian only own 7.3 million Disney shares, worth $686 million, an increase of 900,000 or so shares from the 6.4 million shares he owned at the end of the second quarter of 2023. Peltz also lists another 25.6 million shares, worth $2.4 billion, on the third-quarter 13F, but these shares are listed as “OTR,” or “other,” shares—meaning shares that Peltz has “investment discretion” over but doesn’t own.
Well, it turns out that these shares are owned by Peltz buddy and fellow octogenarian Ike Perlmutter, the crafty former Marvel executive who made a fortune in the sale of the company to Disney in December 2009. Part of Perlmutter’s compensation in the sale was Disney stock. It’s usually reported that Perlmutter owns “around 30 million” Disney shares, but the true number is likely the 25.6 million over which Nelson claimed he has investment discretion. (Anne Tarbell, a Trian spokeswoman, confirmed that this is the correct reading of the 13F.)