Ladies and gentlemen, billionaire and corporate agitator Nelson Peltz is back — and he’s again backed by former Marvel executive Ike Perlmutter. This time, Perlmutter is letting his own (substantial) shares of Disney do the talking — via Peltz’s Trian Fund Management.

Trian now has sole voting power over 33 million Disney shares, most of which come from Perlmutter. He became one of Disney’s largest independent shareholders when he sold Marvel to Disney in 2009 (he got a bunch of cash and stock and a job — but no board seat). Perlmutter believes the shares should be worth more than they are.

These days, Disney trades for about $80 per share; it neared $200 in March 2021. To address this inequity, Peltz and Perlmutter want Disney to cut spending, reduce executives’ salaries, and get some Trian folks on the Disney board. The two are pushing for “multiple” Disney board seats, the Wall Street Journal reported; one would be for Peltz. Perlmutter says he does not personally want a seat — nor a job.

“While I was a Disney employee, I was not comfortable publicly stating my views on the company and its performance,” the former Marvel Entertainment chairman told the WSJ. “As someone with a large economic interest in Disney’s success, I can no longer watch the business underachieve its great potential.”

Disney did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment on this story. Disney declined comment to the WSJ.

Peltz began his career at his family’s trucking company, made big money in vending machines, and eventually bought Snapple. He’s already a non-executive chairman of Wendy’s, Sysco, and the Madison Square Garden Company, and a major investor in Heinz, Cadbury, Kraft, and Pepsi, among others.

Among Peltz’s children are actors Will Peltz (“Manifest”) and Nicola Peltz Beckham (“Bates Motel”). Peltz Beckham is married to Brooklyn Beckham, son of Victoria and David Beckham.

Perlmutter was the Marvel executive who wanted Marvel Studios to reduce the budgets (and the runtimes) on its movies. Creatives at Marvel, including studio chief Kevin Fiege, did not welcome the notes. Ultimately, Disney CEO Bob Iger sided with Fiege. Perlmutter maintained oversight of the comics side of the business until his dismissal in March 2023.

“I have no doubt that my termination was based on fundamental differences in business between my thinking and Disney leadership, because I care about return on investment,” Perlmutter said at the time.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08:  Actors Will Peltz (L) and Nicola Peltz attend the 18th Annual Post-Golden Globes Party hosted by Warner Bros. Pictures and InStyle at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actors Will Peltz (L) and Nicola Peltz at the 18th Annual Post-Golden Globes Party Getty Images

Peltz and Perlmutter tried this last year when they teamed up in a similar attempt to have Peltz join the board. At the time, Bob Chapek was Disney CEO and an ally, and Trian had invested about $500 million and accumulated roughly 9 million Disney shares. Before Peltz and Perlmutter made any headway, Chapek was fired and Iger was reinstated.

Peltz called off his own campaign after Iger announced a Disney reorg that would cut $5.5 billion in costs and 7,000 jobs. Iger also said dividends for shareholders would return for the first time since 2020.

In February, Peltz declared he was “watching” and “rooting” for Iger 2.0, and that “the proxy fight is over.” Seems it is the truce that is now over, and this time Perlmutter is putting his money where his mouth is.

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