Critics: Disney CEO search ‘disgraceful’

Dissidents Roy Disney, Stanley Gold say board deceived investors with a less-than-thorough search.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Former Walt Disney Co. board members and long-time company critics Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold wrote a scathing critique about the Disney board’s just-concluded search for a CEO to replace Michael Eisner, published in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times.

The Disney (Research) board announced Sunday that President Robert Iger will succeed Eisner when he steps down on Sept. 30.

While the dissident shareholders aren’t happy with how the board conducted the search, they are pleased that their campaign succeeded in forcing Eisner to resign.

In the opinion piece, Disney and Gold called the CEO search conducted by the Disney board and chairman George Mitchell “nothing short of disgraceful” since it failed to consider enough outside candidates and focused on Iger — Eisner’s hand-picked successor.

They wrote that the board deceived shareholders back in September when it promised to conduct a “thorough, careful and reasoned process” to select the next CEO when Eisner announced his retirement.

Disney and Gold also said Eisner was able to influence the board’s search process by demanding to sit in on candidate interviews and campaigning for Iger.

As a result, the board did not interview outside candidates until after the company’s annual meeting in February. Plus, Mitchell and the board failed to give one outside candidate, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, serious consideration, according to the dissidents.

Finally, the critics said the board has kept shareholders in the dark about the process, including how many outside candidates were actually interviewed and whether Eisner sat in on the interview with Whitman.



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