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The Iger Legacy’s Last Stand

bob iger
Once discussed as the greatest media C.E.O. of all time, Iger's been embarrassed by this whole undignified process. Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media
Matthew Belloni
April 2, 2024

Talk to Disney executives and they’ll say they’re totally not worried. There’s no way these guys­—these guys!—can upstage Bob Iger and snag two board seats. Not Nelson Peltz, the frumpy 81-year-old billionaire who decided to spend $20 million on a proxy war to get himself on CNBC. Not Ike Perlmutter, fellow patron of the Mar-a-Lago early-bird special, whose purge from Marvel by Iger a year ago was literally cheered by his former employees. And certainly not Jay Rasulo, the former Disney C.F.O. who’d seemingly been living in Siberia for nearly a decade after being passed over in the original Iger succession bake-off.

Yet, the foregone conclusion has become… slightly less foregone? “Please tell me Bob’s OK,” one text from an Iger friend read this weekend, after news hit that CalPERS, the massive California pension fund, would pledge its 6.65 million shares for Peltz and Rasulo. That followed the endorsement of Peltz by ISS, the influential proxy advisory firm. Last week, a Trian-friendly source leaked to the Journal that Peltz was actually winning with about 20 percent of votes tallied, a move that Disney called “a highly inappropriate attempt to sway votes.” Then, lo and behold, the Journal reported today that Disney had pulled ahead, with more than half of the votes counted. (Turns out, Iger and his friends can play the leak game too.) BlackRock, which owns 4.2 percent of the company, backed Disney, as did T. Rowe Price, which holds 0.5 percent of shares. Vanguard, another big institutional shareholder, is still holding out.