Walt Disney Co. investors turned back calls for a future split of the two top jobs held by Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, rejecting the demands of three state pension funds.
Investors voting at Disney's annual meeting Wednesday in Phoenix also approved the company's executive compensation and bonus plans, and re-elected Iger to the board. Each vote had drawn some shareholder opposition.
Investors in Disney, the world's largest entertainment company, were considering a proposal by the $26 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, Hartford, to split the roles of chairman and CEO going forward. Mr. Iger, who plans to step down as CEO in March 2015, led Disney to a 76% total shareholder return for the fiscal year ended in September, the company has said.
“He's had phenomenally good performance,” said Kannan Ramaswamy, a professor of management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, who spoke before the meeting. “Shareholders should be happy. This was not the most opportune time to pick a fight.”
The Connecticut pension fund said in the company's Jan. 18 proxy filing that it was in the best interest of shareholders to separate board leadership and management.
The $254.9 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and the $161.4 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, the two largest U.S. pension funds, had supported the non-binding poll to split top management duties in the future.
CalSTRS had gone further and opposed re-electing six nominees, including Mr. Iger, to Disney's board.