George Lucas Backs Disney Board, Bob Iger Amid Proxy Fight

The filmmaker, who sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, is said to be the media company's largest individual investor.

Star Wars mastermind George Lucas issued a statement backing Disney's board and CEO Bob Iger, urging Mouse House shareholders to reject bids by two activist investor groups for a seat on the media company's board.

“Making magic is not for amateurs,” Disney's major shareholder Lucas said in a statement Tuesday. “When I sold Lucasfilm a decade ago, I was thrilled to become a Disney shareholder because of my long-standing admiration for Disney's core brand and Bob Iger's leadership.”

Lucas continued, “I was relieved when Bob recently returned to the company at a difficult time. Nobody knows Disney better. I am a significant shareholder because I have complete faith and belief in Disney and Bob's track record of driving long-term value. I have voted all of my shares for Disney's 12 directors, and I urge other shareholders to do the same.

Under Iger, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, a deal in which Lucas received 37.1 million Disney shares. Lucas, who founded the company in 1971, has an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion. Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is Disney's largest individual shareholder. CNBC reported.

At Disney's 2024 annual shareholder meeting, roughly April 3, investors will vote on competing board candidate slates — Disney's own 12-member lineup, Nelson Peltz's Tryon Partners with two nominees (Beltz and former Disney CFO Jay Rasullo) or three with Blackwells Capital. Peltz argued that Disney's stock was underperforming the market and that the company needed to adopt and implement more urgent strategies to drive sustained and profitable growth.

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Lucas' comment that “making magic is not for amateurs” may be a reference to Disney's comment that Peltz admitted that he had no media experience. The filmmaker's statement comes as Disney wins other backers in a board fight. On Monday, independent proxy voting consultancy Klaus Lewis released a report recommending that Disney shareholders vote on 12 of Disney's director nominations.

Last month, Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney's grandchildren have released open letters criticizing campaigns by activist investors that threaten to shake up the Disney board.

Disney previously said it opposed candidates nominated by Drian and the Blackwells because they lacked “qualification, ability, perspective and/or expertise” and urged shareholders to vote for its own 12 nominees.

Disney issued its strongest rebuttal to Beltz last week, calling Trian's proxy fight “disruptive and destructive” in a video, saying Beltz's “search seems more about vanity than faith in Disney. Why would he sell 500,000 Disney shares in the last six months in the middle of his proxy fight? ?Drian Partners controls $3.5 billion worth of Disney stock, 79% of which is owned by former Marvel Entertainment chief Ike Perlmutter, whom Disney has long accused of harboring a personal grudge against Iger.

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