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March 31, 2004
Disney Indulging In A Blame Game
In an interview yesterday, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Barbara Hafer said the Disney representatives told her that consultants had advised the company to ignore claims from dissident shareholders that chief executive officer Michael D. Eisner had mismanaged the entertainment giant and that he should be ousted.
After a $92 million expansion, the U.S. Army will reopen its military-only Walt Disney World resort today with twice as many hotel rooms -- and almost no traces of its once-unionized work force. During the temporary closing, the Army contracted out many of the jobs once held by union members. And despite a promise that ex-employees would be given hiring preference when the resort reopened, union members have had little luck getting their old jobs back.
Walt Disney Co. is enjoying fairy tale results from its line of Princess dolls and toys for girls with sales set to rise more than 50 percent this year. The forecast offers a glimmer of good news in a division battered by falling sales of the Disney Stores currently up for sale. Moreover, chief executive Michael Eisner can point to the royal success of Princess toys to help fend off critics who claim he has mismanaged the company and stifled creativity.
Disney Announces Home on the Range for Game Boy Advance
Disney Interactive, a publishing label of Buena Vista Games, Inc., today announced Disney's Home On The Range for Game(R) Boy Advance, a western adventure unlike any other. Based on the Walt Disney Pictures' animated feature film Home On The Range, coming to theaters nationwide on April 2, the Game Boy Advance title picks up where the movie left off, putting players in a fast-moving, action-packed race across the West as they track down, outmaneuver and capture renegade outlaws.
Winnie The Pooh Merchandising Case Against Disney Dismissed
A California Superior Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. over hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from Winnie the Pooh, Disney's lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said on Monday. "After 13 years the Winnie the Pooh case is finally over," Petrocelli told Reuters.
The Walt Disney Company recently split the jobs of CEO and Chairman, and had ended business relationships between the company and outside directors. That hit former U.S. Senator George Mitchell's own pocket. As a Disney director, he had netted $300,000 in consulting fees. But the flow continued elsewhere. Regulatory filings show that after Mitchell stopped receiving the fees from Disney, he continued to earn them from other boards on which he sat. And that has prompted some governance experts and investment-fund officials to question his sincerity for reform and sensitivity to appearances.
Walt Disney World announced the biggest ticket-price increase in the last 15 years an adult ticket to any of its theme parks on Friday. On Sunday, the price of a one-day, one-park adult admission will increase $2.75 to $54.75, before tax, restoring Disney's title as owner of Central Florida's most expensive collection of theme parks. Some experts say that the record price increase is another signal that the flagging tourism-based economy is on the mend.
In their first united appearance since the resignation of Michael Eisner as chairman, top Walt Disney Co. executives will appear together next week. Questions will be hosted Thursday by Credit Suisse First Boston's Bill Drewry, the company said late Friday. Among the executives will be Chairman George Mitchell, CEO Eisner; President Bob Iger and theme park division chief Jay Rasulo.
Roy E. Disney on Friday pressed his campaign to force Eisner's ouster and other management changes. "Michael Eisner is behaving like a Third World dictator of a once-great country ... and his Cabinet sits mute for fear of beheading," Disney said in a speech to a gathering of pension fund officials and other large investors. "What will it take for the board of The Walt Disney Company to listen and to act?"
Roy Disney, the Walt Disney Company shareholder trying to oust Chief Executive Michael Eisner, tried to tighten ties with other dissidents on Friday by offering to share information. Roy Disney said his family company, Shamrock, would work with like-minded investors. "Shamrock will share ideas and information" with the state pension funds and others, he said, declining to give details.
Company morale at Walt Disney Co. is at an all-time low, dissident shareholder Roy Disney charged Friday, calling again for Chief Executive Michael Eisner to step down. "Without the support of the employees, how can the CEO get the company back on track?" he asked, saying Eisner is a "lame duck CEO."
Walt Disney Company studio chief Dick Cook said on Friday he was leaning toward making the third installment of "Toy Story," Pixar Animation Studios Inc.'s 1995 hit, as a feature movie rather than a straight-to-home video project in a few years.
Eisner Adviser Has Disney Engaged In Business Hardball
Razor-sharp and acid-tongued, Zenia B. Mucha, 47, was named Disney's chief communications officer less than two years ago, after starting with the company's troubled ABC unit. Under Ms. Mucha, Disney scrapped a posture in which queries were often dismissed with a flat "no comment." Executives now are pushed to challenge all comers - although few are a match for the frequently profane chief communicator, who is quick to unleash her inner pit bull on critics and the reporters who give them voice.
N.C. State Treasurer Richard Moore Speaks With Eisner, Meets With Disney Officials
Disney chief executive Michael Eisner and other company officials have spoken with North Carolina State Treasurer Richard Moore as part of a campaign to rehabilitate the image of the entertainment giant. Moore, a critic of The Walt Disney Co.'s corporate structure and financial performance, met Thursday with lobbyist Preston Padden and Vice President Christopher Curtin. Eisner participated in the meeting by phone.
The Overleveraged Disneyland: Will Disney Take Losses in France?
WHEN the Walt Disney Company decided to build a Disneyland in Europe, it was clever in many ways - perhaps too clever. It managed to build first one, and then a second, theme park largely with other people's money while not showing any of the loans on its own balance sheet. If all had gone well, it would have shown profits without much in the way of expenses.
Disney Director Estrin Says Board Backs Management
Walt Disney Company director Judith Estrin reaffirmed the embattled board's support of Chief Executive Michael Eisner, telling a group of major shareholders the current leadership is best for Disney. In her speech and when talking with reporters later, she declined to provide specifics about the entertainment company's plans to return to a level of growth that will calm shareholder unrest over a number of issues, including performance of the stock price and the future of Disney's creative firepower.
Comcast Corp. chief executive Brian Roberts said Wednesday that ``some facts would have to change'' before his company would consider raising its offer for Walt Disney Co. The company's bid for Disney was initially valued at $54 billion, at least 10 percent higher than Disney stock at the time, but changing stock prices have since erased that premium. Disney has rebuffed the proposal.
Letter Requesting Release Of Disney Annual Meeting Voting Information
Attorney for Roy Disney and Stanley Gold sends letter requesting release of 2004 Walt Disney Company annual meeting voting information. The letter was sent to an attorney for the Walt Disney Company by an attorney for Roy Disney and Stanley Gold. The lettter also states the NO (withhold) Vote by 401(k) Participants on Eisner Rumored to Be in Excess of 70%.
Disney Brings the Magic of Friendship to the U.S. with the Launch of W.I.T.C.H. Books
Disney Publishing Worldwide announced today that it is launching W.I.T.C.H., a tremendous new book series for tween girls that has seen extraordinary global publishing success, in the U.S. market. An emerging girl property, W.I.T.C.H. is already the fastest growing girls' comic magazine in the world, published monthly in over 64 markets and in 27 languages. Nine W.I.T.C.H. books will be introduced in the U.S. beginning in April 2004 published by Hyperion Books for Children. The first title will offer a hybrid format that combines four-color comics with a traditional chapter book.
Disney CEO Foes Expect Vote to Show Worker Support
Walt Disney Company dissidents planning their next move against Michael Eisner expect final results of the shareholder vote this month will show that most employees in the company pension plan oppose Eisner. The result of the March 3 annual meeting vote is still being certified, and Disney declined to comment before the final count.
Euro Disney has reached an agreement to extend by two months waivers with its creditors, the French theme park operator said on Monday. The waiver agreement, originally due to run until March 31 and designed to give the company time to resolve its financial difficulties, would now run until May 31, the company said in a statement.
Calpers, Pension Funds To Press Disney To Name Eisner Successor
The California Public Employees' Retirement System and four other pension funds this week will demand a meeting with Walt Disney Co.'s board to press directors to name a successor to Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner. The funds, with a combined $460 billion in assets, are challenging Disney's decision to leave Eisner, 62, in place as chief executive after shareholders withheld 43 percent of votes at the March 3 annual meeting for his re-election to the board
Disney Online is Honored with Three 2004 Parents' Choice Awards
Disney Online, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group and creator of the number one kids' entertainment and family community destination, has been awarded three Parents' Choice Awards by the Parents' Choice Foundation. The awards recognize Disney.com, FamilyFun.com and SurfSwellIsland.com for product excellence.
Construction is on track for the May opening of Disney's all new resort at Walt Disney World. Saratoga Springs will be the latest addition to the growing list of luxury resorts that vacationers will have to choose from. The resort will celebrate the heyday of upstate New York country retreats in the late 1800's and should be added to the Disney Vacation Club portfolio.
Walt Disney Internet Group to Unveil Its First 3D Wireless Game at CTIA Conference: Tron 2.0 3D
The Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) announced today that it is currently developing its first 3D mobile game, Tron 2.0 3D, based on the award-winning PC game from Buena Vista Interactive. The game will be shown for the first time at the CTIA Wireless 2004 conference in Atlanta, March 22-24, and is slated to be among the first 3D mobile content released later this spring as 3D capable phones launch in the U.S. The title will be available for both QUALCOMM's Brew(TM) solution and the Java platform.
Investors Claim CEO Eisner Misfired on Offer for Angels
Donald Watkins' failed bid to buy baseball's Anaheim Angels is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by shareholders against the Walt Disney Company. The suit, filed in Los Angeles, claims Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner and the Disney board ignored Watkins' legitimate offer to purchase the Angels last year and cost the company $30 million.
Should Walt Disney Co. chief Michael Eisner stay or go? Whatever the answer, there's no debate about the need for the company he leads to plan for his replacement. Succession planning, a concept many corporate boards historically have ignored or sloughed off, is now a hot topic in corporate-governance circles.
The Disney Channel received nine nominations for the 2003/2004 Daytime Emmy Awards, the most ever by the pay-TV network. Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney picked up seven of the nominations, led by Bear in the Big Blue House with five. The Emmys will be held at New York City's Radio City Music Hall on May 21.
Judy Estrin, Director, The Walt Disney Company, To Speak To Investors
Judy Estrin, president and chief executive officer of Packet Design, LLC, and a member of The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors, will speak to investors at the Council of Institutional Investors' Spring Meeting 2004
The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected this spring to adopt a rule that would help institutional shareholders run their own board candidates on a company's proxy card. That could lessen the control that CEOs such as Eisner exert over the board.
Earl Opens First Earl Of Sandwich Restaurant At Walt Disney World
Lord John Montagu, who holds the British title from which the namesake menu item was named, teamed with Mickey Mouse to snip a red ribbon in front of the 10,000-square-foot test concept located in the Downtown Disney retail center within the Walt Disney World Resort today.
Standard & Poor's expects to discuss with management its future financial plans and strategies to address shareholder value. The ratings on Disney were placed on CreditWatch on Feb. 11, 2004, after Comcast's proposed merger offer. Standard & Poor's remains concerned about eroding shareholder support for management, related to effective leadership and performance of the company.
The film, to be directed by Adam Shankman, finds Vin Diesel starring as an undercover agent hired to protect a government scientist and his family. Garrett will play a high school coach and principal who is somewhat of a nemesis to Diesel's character.
Not surprisingly, the Disney CEO's leadership book about lessons learned as a boy at summer camp has been put off for a year. These days, Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner has his hands full, what with angry shareholders and a hostile bid from cable giant Comcast. But the beleaguered exec is no stranger to hardship.
Fishing might be one of the best-kept secrets at the Walt Disney World Resort. There essentially are three fishing areas: Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, located adjacent to the Magic Kingdom theme park and five resort hotels/campground; Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon, located along Disney's Boardwalk and Epcot theme park and two resort hotels; and Village Lake, located at Downtown Disney Marketplace.
After two years without a contract, the two sides reached a tentative deal with a mediator's help. But as the sometimes bitter negotiations stretched on -- hurting morale in this tightknit department and delaying pay raises -- New and his colleagues weren't convinced leaders of the Reedy Creek Improvement District felt the same way. A solution seemed distant, until a sudden breakthrough early Wednesday. Following a 16-hour session with a federal mediator, Reedy Creek and the firefighters union reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract. The old one expired in December 2001.
Disney is keeping the song under wraps, but those who have heard it say the rendition is reminiscent of the old Julie Andrews. The film is a sequel to the 2001 hit about an American schoolgirl (Anne Hathaway) who inherits the throne of a small European country and is trained for the role by her regal grandmother (Andrews).
Florida Half Ironman Triathlon At Walt Disney World Resort
The Florida Half Ironman will challenge more than 2,000 participants with three difficult stages -- a 1.2-mile swim through Disney's Bay Lake, a 56-mile bike ride around Walt Disney World Resort property and a 13.1-mile run through Disney's Osprey Ridge golf course.
Radio Disney reaches an estimated 23 million 6- to 11-year-olds, for whom it is the radio brand. Its broadcasts are heard in 58 U.S. markets -- including 18 of the top 20 -- that reach 61% of the nation. The network owns and operates 56 AM stations and seven FM stations and continues to expand its reach in North America and worldwide.
Disney World Grants Wish for Part-time Staff: A Raise
Thousands of part-time Walt Disney World employees would receive their first raise in nearly four years under a proposed union pact announced Monday. The tentative agreement between the company and officials with the Service Trades Council, a group that represents 6,100 part-time Disney workers, would bump up starting pay for part-timers from $6.35 an hour to $6.70. It would also guarantee raises of between 2 percent and 3 percent per year through 2007 for part-time workers, union officials said. The agreement covers all types of employees -- from hotel workers to costumed characters -- who work less than 25 hours weekly.
A French court has turned down an injunction against selling merchandise for the movie "Finding Nemo," ruling that there were no "serious similarities" between the Walt Disney Co./Pixar character and a clown fish drawn for a French children's book. The case was brought by lawyer and part-time author Franck Le Calvez, who claims to have penned a book about a clown fish called Pierrot about nine years ago. In the preliminary ruling, judge Louis-Marie Raingeard found that there was no possible confusion between the two characters.
A British supermarket manager who wrote a fairy tale as a bedtime story for his children has sold the film rights to Walt Disney Co. for one million dollars. After 11 years' writing and more than 30 rejections from publishers, Clive Woodall's novel "One for Sorrow: Two for Joy" was published on Monday amid the sort of hype normally reserved for big names like JK Rowling.
For Disney's Embattled Chief, a Double Rebuke From Fidelity
Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest mutual fund company and one of Disney's largest shareholders, voted at the Disney annual meeting to withhold votes for Michael D. Eisner, the chief executive and then the chairman as well, Disney confirmed last week. Fidelity's vote expressing a lack of confidence would have been stinging enough, but the fund family also administers Disney's multibillion-dollar 401(k) retirement plan. The odd result: for Disney employees investing in Fidelity mutual funds with Disney stock, their shares were used to deliver some pointed criticism of Mr. Eisner's leadership.
The Walt Disney Company is plodding ahead with plans to sell two money-losing units -- its Disney Stores and its Anaheim Mighty Ducks hockey team -- despite the distractions of an unwanted takeover bid and a revolt by unhappy shareholders. Both auctions stalled last month to varying degrees, but the iconic media and entertainment company continues to hold discussions with prospective buyers, people familiar with both situations said.
Caterpillar Inc. and the Walt Disney Company settled a trademark infringement lawsuit Thursday that claimed a direct-to-DVD comedy released last year taints the heavy equipment maker's image. Terms of the settlement were not revealed in a brief order approved by U.S. District Judge John Gorman.
Night Of Joy To Showcase 24 Acts Over Three Nights As Disney Plans Its Biggest Christian Music Event Yet
Star-Filled Lineup Has Won 165 Dove Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. Walt Disney World Resort has unveiled plans for an unprecedented Night of Joy in September 2004 that will showcase the biggest, most-decorated lineup of contemporary Christian music talent in the event's 22-year history. The marquee includes 24 acts spread across three consecutive evenings.
Newly elected Walt Disney Co. Chairman George Mitchell said on Thursday that the embattled company board would help develop strategy and continue planning for a successor to Chief Executive Michael Eisner.
Reality is coming to Disneyland's fantasy world, in the form of permanent security gates. Bowing to terrorism fears, the Walt Disney Co. plans to build the gates at the Disneyland Resort next fall. The company had resisted security gates around Disneyland and the California Adventure theme park next door, believing the sense of fantasy would be spoiled.
Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Roller Coaster Re-opens
Disneyland on Wednesday reopened its Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster, which crashed last September, killing one man. State safety regulators approved the ride as ready for service after an inspection this week, and the first coaster pulled out of the station at about 3 p.m. PST on Wednesday.
Why are investors so furious with Michael Eisner? It's not just the stock price. The faithful think his singular focus on marketing has cost the company its soul
The drama inside the Philadelphia convention center last Wednesday was worthy of a Disney epic. The audience of 3,000 ... many of them looking like folks dressed for a day in Orlando, Fla. ... sat spellbound as Michael Eisner and his nemesis Roy Disney, nephew of the fabled Walt, launched into a pitched battle of words. The prize: the hearts and minds of the shareholders. Laying out his plans for a Disney turnaround, a hoarse Eisner delivered a speech that only a Wall Street analyst could love. "This is the precise strategy that separates the Disney and ESPN brands from their competitors, allowing us to generate returns that exceed our cost of capital," he said. For emotional effect, Eisner added, "I love this company. The board loves this company. And we are all passionate about the output from this company." But the audience was passionate about Roy Disney. Looking and sounding eerily like his Uncle Walt, seemingly back from the dead after nearly four decades, Roy took the microphone and spoke to the masses. "Branding is something you do to cows," he said. "Branding is what you do when there's nothing original about your product. But there is something original about our products. Or at least there used to be." The audience erupted in cheers. In that instant, the days of King Eisner's unchallenged rule came to an end.
Walt Disney's sole surviving child broke her silence Tuesday on the growing furor surrounding the empire her father founded, saying Michael Eisner should resign soon as chief executive. Given her lineage, Miller's comments are certain to add more fuel to the increasing pressure on Eisner and Disney's board.
News Corp president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin, identified by some analysts and investors as a possible candidate to lead Walt Disney, shrugged off the rumours, saying he was "very happy" in his current job. Mr Chernin said he was "optimistic" that negotiations to renew his contract at News Corp, led by chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch, would be completed soon.
The Walt Disney Company is renegotiating Chief Executive Michael Eisner's contract to have him retain a salary of $1 million even though he no longer has the chairman role, the New York Times said on Wednesday. Eisner would retain most of the benefits of his current contract, the story said, citing a person close to the negotiations.
Walt Disney Company President and Cheif Operating Officer Robert Iger dismissed criticism Tuesday that new chairman George Mitchell might be too close to management and said the company would focus on improving its networks and animation division. "The board's reputation is on the line ... shareholders come first before any relationship the board may have with management," Iger said during a media and entertainment conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Iger added, "Iger said it was "reprehensible" to suggest Mitchell won't be impartial.
Walt Disney Company President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Iger said on Tuesday that he felt that a new and higher bid to take over the entertainment conglomerate from Comcast was "inevitable". Disney's board on Feb. 16 rejected the original $47.7 billion all-stock offer from the nation's largest cable operator, but Comcast has indicated it still wants a deal -- at the right price -- and said so in a presentation on Monday.
The Walt Disney Company, author Judy Blume and independent producer Jane Startz have agreed to make movies based on Blume's hit kids books like "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret," Disney said on Tuesday. Blume's books have sold over 75 million copies in 26 languages worldwide. Six of her titles are among the top ten all-time, best-selling children's books. Startz's producer credits include the upcoming "Ella Enchanted" for Disney unit, Miramax Films, "Tuck Everlasting" for Walt Disney Pictures and "The Mighty" for Miramax. First on the development list will be "Deenie," about a young teenage girl seeking to define herself beyond the wishes of her parents. Financial details of the deal were undisclosed.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, speaking at the Bear Stearns media conference in Palm Beach, Florida, said that he has no intention of recklessly mortgaging his company in a do-or-die raid of the Walt Disney Company. Speaking for the first time since the takeover bid was offered last month, Roberts delivered this message to Disney shareholders: Technology is going to transform your business. Join us now or the revolution may overwhelm you, even if our financial proposal hasn't. Roberts stressed that by wedding Comcast's distribution technology and "theater" of 22 million homes with Disney content, the company could "accelerate the change that we fundamentally believe is happening to TV in this country."
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner, faced with sagging morale within the ranks, sent an e-mail Monday to about 70,000 employees, saying current management is positioned to lead the company into an era of prosperity.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says it plans to recognize a pair of hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort with its new Green Lodgings awards. Disney's Coronado Springs and Boardwalk Resorts are two of the first four hotels in Florida to receive the awards, which will be presented in ceremonies at the Boardwalk Resort March 10.
The Disney boss Michael Eisner would reap one of the biggest payoffs of all time for a fallen executive if he were to be ousted from the company. Under his contract, Eisner would be entitled to at least $37m in salary, bonuses, pensions and perks. Share options could add another $337m. During his time at Disney Eisner has been paid more than $1 billion in salary, options, perks and bonuses.
Comcast Corp., rebuffed in an unsolicited buyout offer of Walt Disney Co., said Monday that Disney was not a "must-have" acquisition. Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts, speaking on a conference call, said he still believes that in the growing world of personalized television, Comcast can take Disney's movie portfolio and distribute it over its cable lines. "We can create value at a faster rate for both companies," he said. "Is it something we have to do? No."
Walt Disney board of directors will gather next month at a two-day strategy session to possibly discuss the long-term succession of current CEO Michael Eisner.The two-day strategy session, which will be the first formal gathering chaired by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, also comes amid shareholder opposition to Eisner's leadership of the media and entertainment company.
The Walt Disney Company shareholder revolt and the resulting dip in stock price did little to change the company's position on one issue...it's value. In turning down Comcast's pitch, the Disney board left open the possibility of entertaining another bit...that is if it is "reasonable." However, when it comes to Disney, whose reputation for family entertainment is world famous, just what is reasonable? Disney has become one of the most-recognized names on the planet -- a name that parents have learned to trust. It's this reputation, experts say, that will ratchet up the price for Comcast or any other potential suitor.
"The Apprentice" has saved NBC's Thursday night lineup, turned around its season and added millions of dollars in profit...it's also a show that could have belonged to ABC, a network that needs a big hit more desperately than any other. Mark Burnett, who after his success with "Survivor'' and now "The Apprentice'' is the most sought after producer of reality shows, first offered his new series to ABC. But negotiations there quickly turned into an effort to force down the price, and he turned to NBC. The story of how ABC missed out on "The Apprentice" is being pointed to by television industry executives and producers like Mr. Burnett as an example of how the network has been hamstrung creatively and financially by the top-down management style of ABC's parent, the Walt Disney Company, and its chief executive, Michael D. Eisner.
Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner has wielded almost unchecked power over the company for 20 years, serving as emperor of the vast entertainment empire. With last week's stunning no-confidence vote, that reign is likely coming to a difficult close according to some experts. Even if the former chairman can hang on as CEO until his contract expires in 2006, management and leadership experts think that the public rebuke will make it difficult for Eisner to continue as a legitimate leader. Some have claimed that the shareholder rebellion has left Eisner as an emperor with no clothes.
The American people will accept as a fact of life that people make mistakes and that they'll do and say stupid things. But they won't accept a cover-up. The American people feel snookered when a powerful person tries to pull a fast one on them. When someone makes us feel like patsies, we want blood. We hate it when powerful people act arrogantly toward us. That's why President Nixon was forced to leave office in 1974 and why President Clinton was caught in a cauldron of controversies during his administration. Even with the public's strong negative feelings toward Eisner and Stewart, America, being a forgiving nation, might ultimately have felt less resentment if the wrongdoers admitted their errors. If Eisner had acknowledged that he made (numerous) bad decisions during the latter portion of his 20-year reign at the Magic Kingdom, his shareholders might have given him the benefit of the doubt when it came to Disney's problems with the theme parks - particularly after 9/11 - and the ABC network. If Stewart had told federal investigators that she panicked when she sold the stock, they might have concluded that her humility was... well, a good thing.
How the mighty have fallen! Who would have thought that the once powerful but now pitiful Martha Stewart would be convicted by a jury of her peers and face the prospect of prison? Who would have thought that so many other previously unassailable executives face much the same fate? Or that so many corporate pooh-bahs are having their power stripped away? There is, for instance, the arrogant Michael Eisner, Disney's (DIS: news, chart, profile) mouseketeer in chief for the past 20 years, fighting for his corporate life. A stunning 43 percent of the votes cast at the annual meeting this past week called for him to be thrown off the board of directors, the very same pliant body that he previously had played like a flute.
At least 1,000 shareholders gathered in Philadelphia this week stood and cheered when Roy E. Disney called for the removal of Disney Co. boss Michael Eisner. But during the nearly three hours senior Disney executives took to outline their plans for growth, many shareholders abandoned the hall to sip coffee and wait for what they came for - to see how many people would withhold their votes from Eisner as Roy Disney had asked them to.
INTERCOT's own Ian (WDWacky) Mitchell attended the SaveDisney.com rally in Philadelphia a few days ago and he took some copious notes (over 15 pages) that which he summarizes for everyone on the INTERCOT Discussion Boards.
Walt Disney Co.'s critics on Thursday urged the company's board to plan for a successor to Chief Executive Michael Eisner, calling his removal from the chairmanship a cosmetic change that ignored an unprecedented shareholder protest. Investors also debated whether Comcast Corp's $49 billion takeover bid would gain momentum after the Disney board unanimously backed Eisner's leadership as CEO, and he made it clear that he would stay on until his contract expires in 2006."
Roy Disney & Stanley Gold Call Board Move a 'Betrayal of Trust'
Dissident shareholders Roy Disney and Stanley Gold said Thursday that directors of the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) are guilty of a "betrayal of trust" by keeping the embattled Michael Eisner on as chief executive. Eisner was stripped of his chairman title and replaced with presiding director George Mitchell, who Roy Disney and Gold also wanted removed from the board. Gold and Disney went on to call the move "a significant step backwards for substantive governance reform in America's capital markets."
Disney To Add New Venue At Its Wide World Of Sports
Walt Disney World officials today will announce an expansion of the resort's Wide World of Sports complex, further strengthening its position as the world's largest multi-sport facility for amateurs. An industry source closely tied to the negotiations, who asked not to be identified, said Disney will break ground later this month on the project -- the first expansion of the complex since it opened seven years ago.
Some investors are displeased that the Walt Disney board named George Mitchell to replace Michael Eisner as the company's chairman. 'I'm extremely disappointed with Mitchell,' said Cynthia Richson, the corporate governance officer for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, which controls 4.7 million Disney shares of stock. While investors are happy that Disney divided the roles of chairman and chief executive between two individuals -- in keeping with recommendations about corporate governance , they are disappointed that the board chose Mitchell because he is perceived by some people as a crony of Eisner."
Microsoft Corp. will not get involved in any potential acquisition of Disney and is focused on what the software maker expects to be a groundbreaking new product, Chairman Bill Gates said. Gates was responding to a question from Channel Thirteen's Charlie Rose about Comcast Corp.'s recent surprise bid for Disney and about speculation that Microsoft could become involved in a deal as a partner or as a separate bidder. 'We're not going to be involved in it, because we're very focused on software,' said Gates in an interview aired late on Wednesday. "
Eisner Out As Disney Chair, Stays CEO , Mitchell To Serve As Chair
Walt Disney Co. said late Wednesday that it is separating the chairman and CEO positions, cutting the power of 20-year company head Michael Eisner. The board elected director and former Sen. George Mitchell to serve as non-executive chairman of the board. Eisner will continue to serve as CEO. "While making this change in governance, the board remains unanimous in its support of the company's management team and of Michael Eisner, who will continue to serve as chief executive officer," Disney said in a press release.
Comcast won't sweeten its offer to buy Walt Disney Co. but urged the Disney board to take a new look at the proposal in light of the opposition the company's management and board ran into at Wednesday's shareholder meeting. "We think that a signal has been sent loudly and strongly to the Disney board and the Disney management that the shareholders continue to believe they haven't properly represented shareholders' interests in a variety of ways. One is the way they handled the Comcast proposal," said David Cohen, Comcast executive vice president. "The ball we think is very much going to be in Disney's court."
BREAKING NEWS - Eisner Opposition Vote in the Low 40% Range
This just in from the Walt Disney Company Shareholder Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Various news sources are indicating that more than 40 percent of shareholders withheld support for the re-election of Chief Executive Michael Eisner to the board of directors of Walt Disney Company. Roy Disney and Stanley Gold say that this is a clear message that Eisner must go.
Stanley Gold, who resigned from the Walt Disney board late last year, predicted that Disney shareholders would register a 40 percent no-confidence vote against Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner during the company's annual shareholder meeting Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Buena Vista Interactive today announced plans to release TRON 2.0: Killer App for the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft. Currently in development by Climax's Los Angeles studio, TRON 2.0: Killer App will feature new, exclusive Xbox(TM) Live multiplayer combat, specially designed to deliver gamers a state-of-the-art online multiplayer gaming experience.
According to reports in various news services, the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company is considering splitting the posts of CEO and Chairman, both currently held by Michael Eisner. Even though it has been stated earlier by George Mitchell, presiding director that this wasn't going to happen until 2006, sources say that the board will announce this split Wednesday.
Consider the classic image of Mickey Mouse: yellow shoes, white gloves, red pants. No shirt. Mickey might not be ashamed of a little skin, but his bosses are a little more cautious. The Walt Disney Co. this week quietly shelved a special Mickey Mouse statue designed by Janet Jackson, distancing itself from the singer's performance at the Super Bowl. To celebrate Mickey's 75th birthday last fall, Disney solicited artists and celebrities to personalize 75 6-foot, 700-pound statues of its most famous character.
Dissident former Walt Disney Co. (DIS) directors Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold are considering a possible return to the board if Michael Eisner is booted as chairman and CEO. The shareholder revolt they helped start has snowballed and is expected to result in the withholding of more than 30% of votes on the re-election of Eisner to the Disney board at the annual meeting on Wednesday. The duo would be "willing" to return but have no interest in running Disney as managers, according to Clifford Miller, managing director at Shamrock Holdings in Los Angeles, which manages the Disney family's investments.