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George Lucas Backs Disney Board and CEO Bob Iger Amid Proxy Fight: ‘Creating Magic Is Not for Amateurs’

Star Wars mastermind George Lucas — Disney’s largest individual shareholder — has come out with a statement supporting Disney’s board and CEO Bob Iger, urging Mouse House investors to reject bids by two activist investor groups to take seats on the media company’s board.

“Creating magic is not for amateurs,” Lucas said in a statement released Tuesday. “When I sold Lucasfilm just over a decade ago, I was delighted to become a Disney shareholder because of my longtime admiration for its iconic brand and Bob Iger’s leadership.”

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Lucas continued, “When Bob recently returned to the company during a difficult time, I was relieved. No one knows Disney better. I remain a significant shareholder because I have full faith and confidence in the power of Disney and Bob’s track record of driving long-term value. I have voted all of my shares for Disney’s 12 directors and urge other shareholders to do the same.”

Under Iger, Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, a deal under which Lucas received 37.1 million Disney shares. Lucas, who had founded the company in 1971, has an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is Disney’s largest individual shareholder, according to sources familiar with the company.

At Disney’s 2024 annual shareholders meeting, to be held virtually April 3, investors will vote on rival board candidate slates — Disney’s own 12-member lineup, Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners two nominees (Peltz and ex-Disney CFO Jay Rasulo) or three from investment firm Blackwells Capital. Peltz, for one, has argued that Disney’s stock has underperformed the market and that the company needs to adopt and execute more urgent strategies to drive sustained and profitable growth.

Lucas’s comment that “creating magic is not for amateurs” may be a reference to Disney’s point that Peltz has admitted that he has no media experience. The filmmaker’s statement comes as Disney has won other supporters in the board fight. On Monday, independent proxy voting advisory firm Glass Lewis issued a report recommending Disney shareholders vote for the Disney’s 12 director nominees.

Last month, grandchildren of Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney issued open letters criticizing the activist investors’ campaigns threatening to shake up the Disney board and threw their support behind Iger and the current board.

Disney has previously said it opposes the candidates nominated by Trian and Blackwells as lacking “the appropriate range of talent, skill, perspective and/or expertise” and urged shareholders to vote for its own 12 nominees.

Disney last week released its strongest rebuttal to Peltz to date, in a video that called the proxy fight being waged by Trian “disruptive and destructive” and said Peltz’s “quest also seems more about vanity than a belief in Disney. Why else would he sell 500,000 Disney shares over the past six months in the middle of his proxy fight?” Trian Partners controls some $3.5 billion worth of Disney stock, 79% of which is owned by ex-Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, whom Disney has accused of harboring a long-standing personal grudge against Iger.

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