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Dissidents Want Eisner Excluded From Disney CEO Search

Mar 11, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner should not be involved in any way in the search for his replacement, and if he is, the process of finding a new chief executive is “a mockery,” two dissident Disney shareholders said Thursday in a letter addressed to the Disney board.

Stating that they have information from what they describe as “credible sources,” the letter’s authors, shareholders Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, implored the board to ensure that Mr. Eisner will not be present during interviews of potential candidates.

If the allegation that Mr. Eisner will sit in on candidate interviews is true, they wrote, “The practice would make a mockery of the idea that candidates should have meaningful interchanges with the nonmanagement members of the Board. Quite honestly, it would subvert the entire search process.”

The letter is the latest salvo in an ongoing war between a number of Disney shareholders and company directors over who should lead the media giant.

Mr. Disney and Mr. Gold for more than a year have led a campaign to remove Mr. Eisner as the company’s top executive. Last March, they received a partial victory when Mr. Eisner was stripped of his chairman title. Then in September Mr. Eisner announced he would resign at the conclusion of his employment contract in September 2006.

However, there has been some concern among investors that Mr. Eisner is more involved in the search process than they would like. Mr. Eisner has endorsed his No. 2, President and CEO Robert Iger, as his choice to succeed him, and some investors fear Disney’s board members will take their direction from Mr. Eisner, despite their proclamations of independence.