As The Walt Disney Company draws ever closer to its 2022 shareholders meeting on March 9, media outlets–including this one–have pointed out that a considerable amount of steam was growing for stockholders to remove Bob Chapek from the Chief Executive Officer position. However, it is very likely the angry contingent will get their way.
A reporter from the Motley Fool helps explain why Chapek is like to live on as Disney CEO. And, quite frankly, it comes down to one problem: the Anti-Chapek Movement Won’t Have Enough Votes.
Let’s face an inconvenient truth: D23 fanatics, Annual Passholder, and Disney Vacation Club members can be as loud as they want to be. But unless they actually buy shares of The Walt Disney Company, their outrage is like a gentle rain splattering against the roof of a sturdy house. The fact that the disgruntled masses still pay to consume Disney products and content also doesn’t help their case.
As The Motley Fool puts it:
The opening line of this week’s New York Post story mentions fans “fuming over soaring ticket prices and long lines at theme parks.” Does anyone see the problem there? Long lines and higher admissions are magic to the ears of shareholders, at least the institutional investors and pension funds that can get behind the fiduciary duty of maximizing returns for its investors. One can also argue that if lines are long despite rising prices and suspended sales of many annual pass types, it has the pricing elasticity to be even more expensive.
Even with all of the angry retail shareholders, it is highly doubtful that there will be enough shareholders to sway the room. Unlike a democracy where everybody gets one vote equal to all others, voting power is determined by how many shares one owns. So, the anti-Chapek movement would need several large stakeholders on its side.
It should be noted that the most recent and most iconic Disney revolt against CEO Michael Eisner in 2004, which included Walt’s nephew Roy, Steve Jobs, and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, failed to gather more than 43% of shareholder votes.
However, the good news for today’s revolters is that there is a good chance their voices will still be heard as the significant minority was able to convince Disney’s C-level team to make the change voluntarily. Michael Eisner was succeeded by Chapek’s predecessor Bob Iger in 2005.
Disney shareholders and fanatics should also remember that Chapek assumed his position in February 2020 just as a pandemic spread across the world. The past two years have been the antithesis to the acquisition-filled August of the Iger reign, as a company invested in movie production, Theme Parks, Resorts, and Cruise Ships fought to stay afloat after being forced to shutter everything. But, perhaps, as we remove ourselves from the pandemic-triggered restrictions, the war-time leader is no longer needed.
Bob Chapek is already up for a renewal vote regarding his board seat, along with the other ten board members.