Disney and its rivals are breaking spending records for this week’s shareholder fight

Disney and its rivals are breaking spending records for this week’s shareholder fight
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Disney CEO Bob Iger stands with Mickey Mouse
Disney CEO Bob Iger is fighting off hedge funds that want to add their members to the company’s board.

  • Disney’s proxy battle is expected to cost the company and rival hedge funds at least $70 million.
  • That’s because retail investors make up a big chunk of Disney shareholders, and it’s expensive to reach them.
  • The outcome of the shareholder vote could change Disney’s direction, but its impact is still uncertain.

This week’s big Disney shareholder vote is supposed to be a seismic event — a referendum on the future of one of the world’s most important entertainment companies.

Maybe!

But we can definitively say that the Disney proxy battle, which concludes on Wednesday, has been a nice boost for a collection of consultants and media companies.

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That’s because Disney and the hedge funds battling for seats on the company’s board of directors are expected to spend some $70 million to wrangle votes over the course of the campaign.

That’s a record for a proxy fight, and it’s in large part because of the unique nature of Disney’s shareholder base: As The New York Times points out, nearly 40 percent of Disney shares are owned by individual investors, as opposed to big funds like Vanguard.

So that means Disney and its rivals — Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners, as well as Blackwells Capital — have to work hard to wrangle each vote for this week’s election – just like a traditional political campaign.

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That money gets spent on all kinds of stuff: “proxy solicitors” like Okapi Partners, who engineer get-out-the-vote efforts; custom websites laying out the sides’ arguments; and even ads on consumer media. Like, for instance, Business Insider’s daily email newsletter, which features a pro-Disney ad in today’s edition.

Again, it’s entirely unclear what will happen to Disney if Trian or Blackwell win their campaigns — simply getting some of their reps on Disney’s board doesn’t necessarily mean that Disney CEO Bob Iger will run the company any differently.

But Iger and his lieutenants are taking the vote very seriously, and so are their opponents, and that means money for lots of other people in the meantime.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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