Mouse adds 2 overseers

Estrin, Lozano join corporate governance group

Disney directors bolstered the ranks of a committee reviewing the conglom’s administrative practices Tuesday, naming two additional board members to the working group.

Directors Judith Estrin and Monica Lozano were added to the corporate governance committee. In a related move, board members Stanley Gold and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell were named co-chairs.

Gold alone had previously chaired the committee. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mitchell’s appointment as committee co-chair was made in light of a review of Gold’s status as an “independent” director.

A company spokesman declined to elaborate on a Disney statement issued after the board’s meeting at conglom headquarters in Burbank, which lasted several hours. According to the statement, directors also listened to an exec presentation on “near-term and longer-term growth initiatives (and) continued their discussion regarding further enhancements to Disney’s corporate governance guidelines.”

The board’s previously announced review of administrative guidelines aims to boost board independence and generally ensure that conglom follows industry “best practices” for corporate governance. Its review of independent directors is an effort to determine if under tightened New York Stock Exchange guidelines board members with relatives employed at the company should be considered “insiders,” in addition to directors who themselves are corporate employees.

Gold, who is CEO at investment firm Shamrock Holdings, has a daughter who works in Disney’s consumer products division. Ironically, Gold has been among directors most critical of Mouse House topper Michael Eisner, further muddying the question of insiders vs. independent directors.

“It’s so ridiculous,” one analyst said of the status review. “Stanley Gold is like the one independent director they have.”

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