It looks as though the board of directors at The Walt Disney Co. may have finally achieved the kind of peace and quiet that has eluded it for much of the past year.
Two of the board’s loudest critics, former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, appear to be ready to ease the pressure they have mounted against the company’s directors and executives, while at the same time endorsing the process by which the Disney board will search for a replacement for CEO Michael Eisner.
In a statement issued last week by Mr. Disney and Mr. Gold, the duo appeared to be giving the board a wide enough berth to conduct its search without any second-guessing from them.
“In announcing that [the board] will be retaining an independent executive search firm to help select a new CEO-and that it intends to complete the process on or before next June-the board displayed precisely the kind of leadership and independence which we and the vast number of shareholders who share our concerns had been requesting,” Mr. Disney and Mr. Gold said in the statement.
Mr. Eisner in early September announced he would not seek to renew his employment contract when it expires in September 2006. He later said he would also not seek to remain a member of the Disney board upon his departure.
The board promised to have a replacement identified by June 2005 and named Mr. Eisner’s current No. 2, Disney President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Iger, as the only internal candidate up for consideration. The board will also have to name a new chairman. The current chairman, former Sen. George Mitchell, will be forced to retire by next August, when he turns 72, the mandatory retirement age for Disney board members.