Former The Walt Disney Co. director Roy Disney threatened to launch a proxy fight for a new slate of company directors unless the board finds a replacement for outgoing CEO Michael Eisner before his contract ends in 2006.
Roy Disney -- a vocal opponent of Eisner for months since he was ousted from the Disney board last year after reaching mandatory retirement age -- wrote a letter to the board Monday, outlining his terms.
Eisner announced Friday that he would resign when his contract expires Sept. 30, 2006.
In a letter to the board -- written with fellow dissident shareholder and his longtime financial adviser, Stanley Gold -- Roy Disney said that while Eisner’s resignation has put the board in a difficult position, it would be “intolerable for Michael Eisner to continue to hold the company hostage for two more years.”
The letter also objected to the possibility that Eisner could still continue as chairman of Disney after retirement, and it objected to his hand-picked successor for the job, current Disney president Robert Iger.
“In other words, [Eisner’s] ‘succession plan’ is for a company led by Michael Eisner and his obedient lieutenant, Bob Iger, to be handed over to … Michael Eisner and Bob Iger,” the letter stated.
Roy Disney asked the board to immediately begin a search for Eisner’s successor using an independent executive-recruiting firm and to concurrently announce that Eisner will retire as CEO and a member of the board of directors at the conclusion of that search.
The letter stated that if that course of action is not taken, Roy Disney and Gold would “oppose with unrelenting vigor directors who continue to support drift, delay and decay. Should the board not take the actions proposed … we intend to take our case directly to our fellow stockholders and propose an alternate slate of directors committed to moving the company forward aggressively.”
Disney spokesman John Spelich could not be reached for comment.