Annual Meeting Thumbs-Up for Eisner and Disney Board

15 February 2005

To the Sioux, Ojibwe homelands,
Where buffalo no longer roam,
Came the Magic Kingdom Elders
To perform their annual ritual
In the vast Convention Tepee,
By the mighty Mississippi.
Where nine of ten smok'd the Peace Pipe
In homage of Great Chieftain Eisner.

Or for those who prefer prose to cheesy verse: the annual meeting of the Walt Disney Company, held this year in the mid-Western city of Minneapolis, overwhelming re-elected twelve members of the board, including controversial ceo Michael D Eisner.

Ninety-two per cent of the votes were cast in the board's favor, the remaining 8% presumably withheld as threatened by the dissident duo, Roy E Disney and his henchman Stanley Gold [WAMN: 10-Feb-05].

The result reflected a spectacular turnround in Eisner's standing with investors, compared with last year's meeting when 45% of them declined to vote for the (then) chairman/ceo. As a result, he was immediately replaced in the former role by onetime US senator George E Mitchell.

Eisner's renewed popularity was triggered by a marked improvement in the group's fortunes. In its fiscal first quarter, reported earlier this month, Disney posted net income of $723million (€562.03m, £387.46m).

The surge in esteem for the ceo might also have been helped by his announcement last year that he intended to step down as chief executive in September 2006.

Chairman Mitchell, who is also due to retire next year, told the meeting he believed the task of replacing Eisner was the most important in his ten years on the board. He assured investors there would be no automatic elevation of current Disney president Robert Iger to the ceo role.

"There's been no prior determination, Mitchell told the assembled wallets. "We want the best possible person to decisively and creatively lead this company."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff