Bob Iger Says He Stopped Marvel Chair Isaac Perlmutter From Firing Kevin Feige in 2015

Disney CEO Bob Iger today called Marvel chairman Isaac Perlmutter’s support of activist investor Nelson Peltz “a curious dynamic.”

Trian Group’s Peltz this morning dropped its battle with Disney that featured a push for a seat on the board. He said a sweeping corporate restructuring announced Wednesday spoke to many of his concerns about the company’s management and strategy. Peltz’s campaign didn’t go public until the middle of last year, but it began in 2022 under former CEO Bob Chapek and with support from Perlmutter, Disney said.

In an SEC filing in January as part of the proxy fight with Peltz, Disney listed meetings and calls beginning in the summer of 2022 involving Peltz and Chapek, CFO Christine McCarthy, directors Amy Chang and Safra Katz, general counsel Horatio Gutierrez, as well as Iger, among others. Initiated by Perlmutter, who supported Peltz and lobbied Disney executives and board members on his behalf.

“Peltz, or Isaac Perlmutter (a Disney employee and shareholder who currently serves as chairman of Marvel Entertainment) on Peltz’s behalf, has sought a board seat or recommended that he be added to the board 20 times through July 2022,” Disney said in the filing.

In an interview with CNBC, Iger indicated that Peltz was not happy about losing oversight of Marvel’s movie production operations.

“Our filings indicate that both Ike and Nelson were working together to try to encourage the board or to persuade the board to keep Nelson on the board. They have a relationship that goes back quite some time. We bought Marvel in 2009. I promised Ike the job that he would continue with Marvel after this. Not forever, necessarily. But after that. And in 2015 he purported to fire Kevin Feige who was running Marvel Studios, making movies. [operation] At the time, and I thought it was a mistake and took steps to prevent it from happening. I think Kevin is an incredibly, incredibly talented executive that, you know, the Marvel track record speaks for itself. And so I moved Marvel’s movie-making operation out of Ikea and into the movie studio under Alan Horne” (Phase reports directly to Horne, who will retire from the company in 2021.)

Asked by host David Faber if it created ill will, he said, “You’d have to ask Ike about that. But let’s put it this way. He was not happy about it. And I think that unhappiness exists today. And you know what, that link and Nelson, in his relationship. I think that is something you can guess. I won’t.”

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