Disney Rebellion Swells as Eisner Vote Nears

03 March 2004

Walt Disney Company's longstanding chairman/ceo Michael Eisner looks set for a rough ride at Wednesday's shareholder meeting after another pension fund vowed to oppose him.

The State Board of Administration of Florida -- America's fourth biggest pension fund -- has decided to use its 7.3 million Disney shares to vote against the re-election of Eisner.

It joins the rapidly growing rebellion against the Disney boss. Pension funds in California, North Carolina, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have all vowed to vote against him in the no-confidence vote.

These groups hold Eisner responsible for the company's recent poor performance. "In the final analysis," said Coleman Stipanovich, the Florida fund's executive director, "everything that has impacted the erosion of shareholder value leads back to a major corporate-governance issue that concerns us, which is allowing one person to serve both as chief executive officer and board chairman."

Eisner cannot actually be ousted by the re-election vote, for the simple reason that he is standing unopposed. However, a large rebellion -- and analysts are currently predicting a vote of around 30% against him -- would be highly embarrassing and increase the pressure for a change at the top.

Comcast Corporation, whose hostile bid for Walt Disney is still in situ, said Tuesday it would vote against the reelection of Disney chairman/ceo Michael Eisner in today's shareholder meeting in Philadelphia.
    But whichever way Comcast votes is irrelevant -- a mere PR gesture. It’s current holding of Disney stock accounts for less than 0.1% of the company; and as stated above, Eisner stands unopposed.

Data sourced from: FloridaToday.com and Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff