A day before the Walt Disney Co.'s annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia, ex-directors Roy Disney and Stanley Gold proclaimed at a news conference they will work as long as it takes to oust Disney chairman and ceo Michael Eisner. They believe that a dissenting vote of 15-20% will be sufficient. Gold said whatever the outcome they are not going away. They hope to rally as many as 1,000 shareholders during their 15-minute presentation at Wednesday's (March 3, 2004)10:00 am meeting (EST), which will be Webcast live at www.disney.com/investors.
Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Co. is bracing for as high as a 30% dissenting vote, as the Florida State Board of Administration, the fourth-largest U.S. pension fund, joined a dozen other prominent investors on Monday in promising to withhold their votes for Eisner's reelection to the Disney board.
Over the weekend, the Disney company fought back, issuing the following statement to shareholders: "This year, your company expects to grow its earnings from continuing operations in excess of 30%. In fact, as a consequence of the strategy management is implementing across all segments of the company, the company expects to deliver double-digit compound growth in earnings through at least 2007." Disney coo and president Bob Iger lashed out at the company's critics on Tuesday for conducting a "campaign of misinformation."
However, Eisner's reelection to the board is not in doubt, since he is running unopposed. But he might be asked to separate his roles as chairman and ceo to ensure a more independent board. Yet that won't be enough to satisfy Disney and Gold, since it would still leave Eisner in charge of the Disney empire.