Pension Fund CalPERS Votes for Nelson Peltz and Jay Rasulo in Disney Board Battle: Report

CalPERS, the influential California pension fund, has voted to shake up the Disney board by backing the election of activist investors Nelson Peltz and Jay Rasulo who have waged a months-long battle with CEO Bob Iger and the incumbent board of directors.

The California Public Employees Retirement System told Reuters that the fund had cast its votes for Trian Partners nominees Peltz and Rasulo as alternative directors to join the Disney board. The fund which manages more than $465 billion in assets, owns about 6.6 million Disney shares, making it one of the company’s top 30 investors. Disney declined to comment on the Reuters report.

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“CalPERS believes Walt Disney Co will benefit from fresh eyes on its board of directors and voted its company shares in favor of candidates Nelson Peltz and Jay Rasulo,” the U.S. pension fund, which owned 6.65 million shares in the entertainment giant at the end of December, told Reuters. As of this month, Disney has about 1.83 billion shares outstanding.

Peltz, a longtime activist investor, has been publicly critical of Disney on and off for more than a year given the company’s struggling stock price and steep losses racked up by its fledgling streaming operations. Disney has battled back against Peltz and a separate activist fight to seat new directors waged by Blackwells Capital.

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Trian and Blackwells have asserted that Disney’s board has been too cozy with Iger and senior management during a time of profound transformation for the company’s core film, TV and parks businesses. Trian and Blackwells have also been at odds with each other as they wage PR war against Disney at a time of vulnerablity for the world’s largest traditional media company.

The PR and lobbying efforts of the past few months will come to a head April 3 when the board election is held as part of Disney’s virtual shareholders meeting.

(Pictured: Trian Partners’ Nelson Peltz and Jay Rasulo)

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