The activist investor Nelson Peltz nominated himself and a former Walt Disney executive to the board of the Walt Disney Company on Thursday, continuing his battle with the entertainment giant over what he sees as a languishing stock price and the mishandling of its leadership succession plan.
This is Mr. Peltz’s second proxy battle with Disney in two years. Last year, he fought to get on the board, saying he would cut costs, revamp Disney’s streaming business and clean up the succession planning. Mr. Peltz withdrew his demands in February when Disney put in place a restructuring plan and made billions of dollars’ worth of cost cuts.
Mr. Peltz’s investment firm, Trian Partners, has been working on the fight with Ike Perlmutter, the former chairman of Marvel and one of Disney’s largest independent shareholders. In addition to himself, Mr. Peltz also nominated James Rasulo, who spent three decades at Disney, including as chief financial officer.
Disney said the nominations of Mr. Peltz and Mr. Rasulo would be reviewed by a committee, which would make a recommendation on their proposed candidacy to the board.
“Disney has an experienced, diverse, and highly qualified board that is focused on the long-term performance of the company, strategic growth initiatives including the ongoing transformation of its businesses, the succession planning process and increasing shareholder value,” the company said in a statement.
Shares of the company fluctuated in early trading following Mr. Peltz’s action.
Disney has been preparing for a proxy battle with Mr. Peltz. In November, the company added two power hitters to its board: James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, and Jeremy Darroch, who formerly ran the British television company Sky.
Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, had stepped down from that role in 2020, but returned two years later — replacing his handpicked successor, Bob Chapek — and now has a contract that expires at the end of 2026.
Mr. Iger said at the DealBook Summit in November that his return brought unexpected challenges. Some, he said, “were brought on by decisions that were made by my predecessor, some that are just basically the result of a tremendous amount of disruption in the world and in our business.”
The company has also said that “robust” succession planning is underway, with a search extending outside Disney.
Mr. Rasulo left Disney in 2015 after a rival executive, Thomas O. Staggs, was promoted to chief operating officer, making Mr. Staggs the board’s favored candidate to succeed Mr. Iger. (Mr. Staggs stepped down a year later after the board and Mr. Iger had second thoughts about on his ability to lead the company.)
While at Disney, Mr. Rasulo was respected for his ability to accomplish difficult assignments, even if his personal style, at times, made him a feared figure. While serving as chief financial officer, Mr. Rasulo aggressively carried out a sweeping cost-cutting initiative. Before that, he served as chairman of Disney’s theme park division, where he oversaw a $1 billion overhaul of the company’s California Adventure park, opened Hong Kong Disneyland and laid the foundation for a complex new visitor management system at Walt Disney World. He joined the company in 1986.