Call them The Revengers. Last year, when Disney head Bob Iger laid off legendary Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter, it seemed that this particular thorn in Iger’s side had been permanently removed.

But in true comic book character fashion…Ike is back. And he’s brought his own super team, all with the goal of taking over the Disney board to get it back on track.

One member of Perlmutter’s super team is back for a second run: activist investor Nelson Peltz, a fellow 81-year-old billionaire who was part of last winter’s takeover attempt via his Trian Management company. But they’ve got a new ally with his own formidable powers: former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, who was once a potential successor to Iger, but left the company in 2015 when that didn’t pan out – a move that reportedly left Perlmutter heartbroken.

Kim Masters has the rundown on the board moves at THR: 

Peltz dropped that first run at Disney after Iger pledged to slash costs and lay off thousands of employees. But with Disney stock still languishing, Peltz and Perlmutter are back, having added Rasulo to the team. The goal is to get board seats for both Peltz and Rasulo and — one must suspect — eventually to install Rasulo in the CEO job that eluded him years ago. Presented with Peltz’s first run at the company, it would seem very possible that shareholders would dismiss him and Perlmutter as two 81-year-olds driven by Perlmutter’s quest for revenge.

But with Rasulo on board, they’ve added a respected longtime Disney executive. Rasulo had largely disappeared from the public eye, serving on various boards including iHeartMedia and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. In a Dec. 14 statement announcing his alliance with Peltz and Perlmutter, Rasulo said, “The Disney I know and love has lost its way.”

When Iger disposed of the Perlmutter-Peltz threat in 2023, it seemed he had a lot of high powered cards in his deck. But since then even Disney’s most beloved brands have proven to be as effective as a Wood Elemental: animation is lost in the weeds; an 80 year old Indiana Jones was 80 years old; Star Wars is lost in an uncharted system; and of course, most distressingly, the long-dreaded MCU fatigue has finally settled in. ESPN and Disney+ are also flailing about in the general disaster that is any streaming company that isn’t Netflix. Disney stock is struggling – so is everything else, especially after two long, draining strikes, but Disney was supposed to be special.

While the date for Disney’s annual stockholder’s meeting hasn’t been set, it’s looking like a tougher battle this time. Iger is marshalling his own allies for the struggles to come, according to reports:

In the latest turn in a pitched activist investor battle, Disney secured the backing of shareholder and Mason Morfit-led firm ValueAct Capital Management as CEO Bob Iger looks to fend off a challenge from an activist investor, a former Disney CFO and an ousted Marvel mogul. Meanwhile, other investment firms are circling with their own opportunistic moves ahead of the yet-to-be-scheduled shareholder meeting.

Disney and ValueAct have entered into a “confidentiality agreement that enables the company to provide information to the investment firm and consult with ValueAct on strategic matters, including through meetings with the Disney board and management,” the company said Wednesday.

In other words, this is no four-issue mini series. It’s a 12 issue not so Secret Wars, with the world’s most valuable IP at stake.

Peltz has a history as an activist investor, and previously took over Heinz in the 00s. While the world has changed a lot since then, that story is a familiar one: lots and lots of cuts and layoffs, (cancelling Christmas parties) and selling the leaner company to yet another bigger fish, in this case Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Group. Which then made even MORE cuts, and then tried to revitalize the business with products like…Mayochup, a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise. Even a small child knows to get a mix of these popular condiments you just squirt a pile of each into a bowl and stir. Buffett ended up losing $4.3 billion on Heinz, and admitted he over paid. Anyway, you can read a critical analysis of the Peltz-Heinz team-up in the above link. Although he wasn’t responsible for Mayochup, to be fair, Peltz’s resume doesn’t include much that builds confidence that he can relaunch Star Wars, which is why his first takeover attempt was rebuffed.

With Rasulo and Perlmutter, there’s clearly a revenge motif in place. Ike always wanted Disney to run his way, with his admitted fixation on cost-cutting. And as I said before, he’s never going to give up getting the best of Disney Bob, not until one of them is dead.

Matthew Belloni’s What I’m Hearing newsletter has even more on the battle, while naming Perlmutter-Peltz-Rasulo the “Villains of the Year” (sub required but you can read one article for free.):

Nobody at Disney was surprised when Perlmutter revealed that he was the helping hand behind the Peltz campaign, calling and lobbying board members, and ultimately pledging shares to the cause. I’d reported that, as had others. But Rasulo was a shock, even inside Disney, considering he’d gone quiet as one of the few ex-Mousers who didn’t really keep up with his former colleagues. Rasulo was one of the only top Disney execs to have a good relationship with Perlmutter, a bond they seemingly forged over their mutual frugality. Ike was pissed when Jay was forced out of the company, and it was arguably a key moment in the downward spiral of his relationship with Iger.         

But that’s all personal; again, what does Team Peltz actually want from Disney? They still offered no real ideas when they formally reappeared in December. “I want Disney to get back to the way it was when Jay Rasulo was here as C.F.O., because that’s when the company understood the taste and smell of success,” Peltz said. 

Disney faces a lot of real problems, including finding a successor for the 72-year-old Iger, getting streaming under control, and jumpstarting their stalled franchises. The Trian Group is going to have to lay out their plans for how to do all that in order to get the board on board. And it’s going to take more than just cancelling Christmas parties.



  1. Feels like just shallow revenge from Ike and Co, along with probably them spouting the current right wing targets as their “argument” to give them control.

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