Mouse board finds friends

ISS supports all Disney director noms

NEW YORK — Influential shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services recommended Tuesday that Walt Disney stockholders vote in favor of all Mouse director nominees — including Michael Eisner — at the Feb. 11 annual meeting in Minneapolis.

It’s a switch for ISS, which had urged shareholders not to back Eisner’s re-election at last year’s contentious meet in Philadelphia. Support for Eisner was so thin at that confab that he was forced to resign as chairman.

“Overall, Disney has taken some positive steps in the past year,” ISS wrote in an analysis it sent to clients.

Disney, it said, has more or less agreed to permanently separate the CEO and chairman jobs. It’s hired an executive search firm to find a replacement for Eisner, added one independent director to the board and committed to adding another in the near future.

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The Michael Ovitz trial and an SEC consent decree settling inadequate “related party transactions” could “be seen as remnants of the past that shareholders should expect not to be repeated in the future,” ISS added.

The transactions deal with relatives of several board members who were employed by the company.

Firm also noted Disney’s strong financials in fiscal 2004.

“This vote recommendation in support of the Disney directors is based on good faith that the company will continue to demonstrate strong financial results while embracing corporate governance reform,” it said.

Disney shares jumped 3.04% Tuesday to close at $28.80.