Disney Proxy Fight Update: The Empire Strikes Back!

Game over!

That’s the TV Blog’s bold prediction of the outcome of Disney’s war with activist investors seeking seats on the Disney board now that “Star Wars” creator and influential Disney shareholder George Lucas has come out in opposition to the activists.

The Lucas endorsement, reported earlier this week, puts a familiar face on Disney’s campaign to drive shareholder votes in favor of the Disney board at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting April 3.

The high-profile show of support should sway large investors -- both institutional and individual -- plus millions of small investors to cast their votes in support of Disney’s current board and top management in the company’s struggle with one of those big investors, Nelson Peltz, plus a smaller firm seeking seats on the board, Blackwells Capital.



Lucas is a household name known to investors of all sizes who is as famous as the “Star Wars” empire he created that has spawned countless movie sequels and TV shows for nearly 50 years. 

He sold his production company, Lucasfilm, to Disney in 2012 for an estimated $4.05 billion in cash and stock. 

So when he comes out in favor of Disney management, it represents a very strong vote of confidence for Disney’s strategy going forward, and CEO Bob Iger’s fitness for carrying it out. 

“Creating magic is not for amateurs,” Lucas said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

“I remain a significant shareholder because I have full faith and confidence in the power of Disney and Bob’s track record of driving long-term value.

“I have voted all of my shares for Disney’s 12 directors and urge other shareholders to do the same,” Lucas said -- an endorsement that in all likelihood will put the proxy vote over the top for Disney.

With that first sentence -- “Creating magic is not amateurs” -- the Lucas statement takes direct aim at Peltz, who is trying to elbow his way onto Disney’s board to exert pressure on the company to squeeze out more profit for shareholders.

Peltz’s campaign for proxy votes carries the slogan, “Restore the magic.”

It implies that Peltz, along with former Disney executive Jay Rasulo, can guide creativity at Disney better than the current management led by Iger. George Lucas begs to differ.

Harrison Ford photo from “The Empire Strikes Back” courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

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