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Dissidents doctrine

Disney duo ready to run alternates

NEW YORK — Disney dissidents Stanley Gold and Roy Disney said they’re prepared to nominate an alternate slate of Disney board directors next year if the current board does not “face up to the issues.”

Speaking Monday to the Society of American Business Editors & Writers at a conference in Fort Worth, Texas, former director and current shareholder Gold indicated he is prepared to take the time and considerable expense to mount an alternative board slate if that is the only way to unseat CEO Michael Eisner and force another shareholder vote.

Decision was likely provoked by the board’s reticence to take any more serious action to address concerns about Eisner’s stewardship of the company. “I’m less and less encouraged that (the board) will face up to the issues, but if they don’t we will run a slate,” Gold said.

Some 45% of voting shareholders withheld ballots to re-elect Eisner at the March 3 shareholders meeting. But after the Mouse chief subsequently was stripped of his chairmanship, the current board last week reiterated that Eisner has its full support as CEO.

Gold cited Apple and Pixar chief Steve Jobs as a possible short-list candidate for Mouse CEO.

Shamrock Holdings, Roy Disney’s investment arm, would have to put forward a new slate of board candidates by the end of this year.

Next week Disney is due to report its first-quarter earnings, which should show sizable gains in operating income thanks to cable network strength and a theme park turnaround.

But Gold dismissed Disney’s current strong earnings growth and forecast, saying the “suits” are running the business, which is all but “bankrupt of creative people.”

In a speech on corporate governance reform, Gold told the conference boards of directors were “the last bastion of elitism in American business.” He said the management of public companies “has not kept pace with the times or the interests of the exploding ownership base.”

(Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.)

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