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Blackwells criticizes Disney rival Trian, calls its nominees the only qualified candidates

Hedge fund Blackwells criticized rival Walt Disney, opens new tab activist shareholder Trian Fund Management on Monday, saying the Nelson Peltz-led firm had “not offered a single strategic idea” to aid the entertainment giant’s turnaround, according to a press release shared with Reuters.

“Astoundingly, Mr. Peltz recently claimed that he would like ‘a guy who doesn’t have media experience’ on the Disney Board,” Jason Aintabi, chief investment officer of Blackwells,” said in a statement. “We remind Mr. Peltz that Disney is a significant media company and, now more than any time in its history, needs Board members with deep media experience.

On Friday, Blackwells solicited support for its three nominees to Disney’s board in a preliminary proxy filing, challenging Trian, which is seeking two seats on the board.

The battle for Disney’s board underscores the high stakes in the company’s attempted turnaround under Chief Executive Bob Iger. He led Disney from 2005 to 2020 and returned as CEO in November 2022 after investors punished the company’s stock for a $1.5 billion quarterly loss in its streaming division and after many of its movie franchises underperformed.

In the press release on Monday, Blackwells said it believed its candidates were the only qualified nominees to support Disney’s transformation.

Blackwells nominated: Craig Hatkoff, a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival who also has a background in real estate; Jessica Schell, a former executive vice president of Warner Bros Home Entertainment who also worked at Universal Pictures; and Leah Solivan, founder and former CEO of TaskRabbit, an online marketplace for freelance labor.

The hedge fund also said it was “particularly disappointed” that Disney had agreed to share information with another shareholder, investment firm ValueAct.

“Showering one shareholder with information that is withheld from all other shareholders will only make matters worse,” Aintabi said, calling on Disney to make public all information that was shared with ValueAct. Reuters

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