Disney’s Grandchildren Compare Nelson Peltz to a Disney Villain in Proxy Flight

"Disney stories are filled with heroes and villains. We know who the villains are in this story."

Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney is one of the signatories on a letter to Disney’s shareholders supporting CEO Bob Iger. JP Yim/Getty Images

The Walt Disney Company (DIS)’s ongoing proxy war with hedge fund billionaire Nelson Peltz has compelled the Disney heirs to speak out. The grandchildren of Walt Disney and his brother and cofounder, Roy Disney, wrote two open letters yesterday (Feb. 29) to Disney shareholders to throw support behind CEO Bob Iger and show their disapproval of the board member nominations of Peltz and Jay Rasulo, the former Disney chief financial officer.

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The longer of the two letters was signed by four grandchildren of Roy Disney’s: Roy P. Disney, Susan Disney Lord, Abigail Disney and Tim Disney. Abigail Disney, 64, is a vocal member of the Disney family who has expressed disapproval of Iger in the past over his huge pay package. But this time, she and the other descendants of Roy Disney showed their support of Disney’s current leadership led by Iger, saying the team understand their family’s vision and the “magic” of the company. 

“​​They understand that the longevity of The Walt Disney Company isn’t only the result of smart business decisions;” the letter said, “it is rooted in the strong emotional connection Disney continues to forge with generations of people from around the globe.” 

They condemned activist investors by calling them “wolves in sheep’s clothing just waiting to tear Disney apart.” They called to memory a hostile takeover attempt in 1984 ago led by Saul Steinberg, an associate of Peltz. The takeover was unsuccessful.

Staying true to Disney storytelling, the letter concluded by comparing activist investors to villains. “Disney stories are filled with heroes and villains. We know who the villains are in this story, and we know they cannot be entrusted with protecting this company’s rich legacy or guiding its bright future.”

Peltz, the founder of  Trian Partners, began his campaign against the Disney board in January 2023 when he announced he was going to run for a board seat to gain influence over the company. He brought on Rasulo for leverage last December. Disney’s board told shareholders at the beginning of February that they do not support the nominations brought on by Train Partners or any other rival groups, which includes nominees from other activist investors at Blackwells Capital.   

In a separate shorter letter, Walt Disney’s grandchildren, including Walter Elias Disney Miller, Tamara Diane Miller, Jennifer Miller-Goff and Joanna Sharon Miller, also showed support for Iger. “Bob Iger has grown this company in a modern world, and he continues to maintain a balance of creativity and profit,” the heirs wrote. “There have been challenging times, but this current management has adjusted and grown through those challenges.” 

Disney’s Grandchildren Compare Nelson Peltz to a Disney Villain in Proxy Flight