Roy Disney Unveils Lawsuit Storyboard

03 June 2005

Roy E Disney, 75-year-old nephew of the eponymous Walt, on Wednesday outlined his plans to topple the Walt Disney Company's carefully laid chief executive succession plan.

Roy, a substantial shareholder and former vice chairman of the company, has teamed with another former Mouse House director, his financial advisor Stanley P Gold, in a legal action to invalidate the company's recent appointment of Disney president Robert A Iger as chief executive designate.

Iger is scheduled to replace incumbent Michael D Eisner when he 'retires' on October 1 - a less than eager exit, orchestrated in no small part by Disney and Gold.

The Disney/Gold lawsuit, currently before Chancellor William Chandler III of the Delaware Chancery Court, accuses the Disney board of conducting a sham search for a successor to Eisner. The dissident duo see Iger as Eisner's nominee.

They say they would have acted sooner had the company not assured the 2004 annual meeting that the new ceo would be appointed "in a thorough, careful and reasoned process."

The company did exactly that, a Disney legal eagle told the chancellor. It had appointed a search firm and considered external candidates, with all board members committing to participate in the search. The plaintiffs' case should be dismissed, the advocate urged.

Chancellor Chandler promised the two sides he would rule "promptly" on whether the case should go to trial or be thrown out.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff