Disney Phones Home For Board Fight Proxy Votes

Live phone calls to shareholders is the latest strategy adopted by Disney in its battle to outgun activist investors campaigning for seats on the Disney board.

It is a tool one associates more with political campaigns than a corporate proxy fight -- in this case, live phone calls from a telephone call center rather than recorded robocalls from such legendary Disney characters as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse or CEO Bob Iger.

We got the call on Monday from an actual person who left a 45-second voicemail message since we were not around to pick up.

We knew it was a real person because he flubbed part of our name, and graciously apologized (apology accepted).

“This is Chris [last name] calling on behalf of the board of directors of Walt Disney Company,” he said.

“Um, regarding the annual meeting of the shareholders on April 3, to support Disney, please vote using the white proxy card for the election of only the 12 company nominees.



“Simply discard any blue or green proxy cards that you may have received from Trian Group or Blackwells,” he instructed, referring to the proxy ballots that have been mailed to millions of shareholders large and small (us) by the warring factions in this proxy battle.

“If you have any questions, you may call us toll-free at 1-877-456-3463. We’re available 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Thank you.”

The Disney phone calls are part of the company's efforts to prevent nominees from the two investment firms -- Trian Partners and Blackwells Group -- from being elected to the board at the company's annual meeting of stockholders on April 3.

The most prominent of the outside nominees are Trian's Nelson Peltz, a billionaire investor, and Jay Rosulo, a former long-time Disney exec who held a number of top titles at the company.

The proxy battle is being fought on several fronts, of which this phone campaign is one part. In February, both Disney and Trian mailed elaborate poly-wrapped packages to shareholders' homes.

The companies' packages each contained their own ballots -- white for Disney and blue for Trian.

The packages also included printed material in which each opposing side made their case for election to the board. The Blackwells ballots are green, but we have not received a package from Blackwells.

We have not yet received any phone calls from Trian, but one of the elements in the company's multimedia campaign for board seats is a dedicated website,

On the site, Peltz and Rosulo are each seen in separate one-minute videos explaining why they want to get on the Disney board so badly.

Peltz's is notable for its bluntness. “We want the very same thing that they do,” says Peltz, whose Disney holdings amount to an estimated $2.5 billion. “Fundamentally and crudely, we want the stock to go up.

“It's time for the board to understand that their big board fees and management with a huge compensation owe something to us,” he says.

He then makes common cause with ordinary investors. “We want to make sure that all the shareholders -- not just guys like us -- but guys who got 50 shares for a gift, a kid who got 10 shares and has it on his wall as his 10th birthday gift, those are the people we wanna help,” Peltz says.

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