Former The Walt Disney Co. directors Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold have stepped up their fight against chairman Michael Eisner, issuing a letter to shareholders urging them to vote against Eisner and three other Disney board members at its annual meeting March 3.
Roy E. Disney resigned from Disney’s board last year after it became clear that the company would force him out when he met the mandatory retirement age of 72.
Shortly after Roy Disney left the board, his longtime financial adviser, Stanley Gold -- a partner with Roy Disney in Disney-family investment vehicle Shamrock Holdings Inc. -- also resigned.
Roy Disney has called for Eisner’s ouster before. But in his most recent letter -- filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Jan. 27 -- he asked investors to vote no on the re-election of board members George Mitchell, Judith Estrin and John Bryson, as well.
Mitchell, Roy Disney wrote, is spread too thin with his membership on other boards to focus on Disney.
Roy Disney also claimed that Estrin, chairman of Disney’s compensation committee, has engineered excessive pay packages for executives, and that Bryson has conflicts of interest, as his wife works for Lifetime Television (50% owned by Disney) and his company, Edison International, has done several multimillion-dollar transactions with Disney.
In his letter, Roy Disney said this effort is not personally motivated -- neither he nor Gold want to become chairman or CEO -- but instead an effort to improve the financial health of the company, to restore shareholder value and to return Disney to sustainable growth.