Last month the Walt Disney Company announced it was planning a significant layoff within the company as part of a significant cost savings plan. Due to the fact that Disney is trying to reduce costs by billions of dollars, the people laid off in what was only the first of three rounds of layoffs were those with more significant positions. And one assumed they had hefty salaries as well. The most shocking surprise was that Ike Perlmutter, the head of Marvel Entertainment and the one who sold the company to Disney, is now also out of a job. But he says he wasn’t laid off, he was fired.
The relationship between Ike Perlmutter, the single largest Disney shareholder, and Disney the company (specifically CEO Bob Iger) has been a tenuous one for some time. Having said that, Perlmutter was still around, so it was a bit of a shock when it was announced that he was leaving the company. For his part, Perlmutter tells the Wall Street Journal that he fully expected to be gone at some point. He explained…
His attempt to “improve its business” is a reference to his support of Nelson Peltz, who had been engaged in a proxy war with Disney and angling for a seat on the company’s board. Perlmutter was an outspoken supporter of Peltz, and as the largest shareholder in the company he could have potentially done quite a bit had it actually come to a vote. Peltz dropped his proxy war after Disney announced its major cost-cutting plan.
Speaking with the WSJ, Perlmutter also admits that when the battle between Disney and the state of Florida began after the company had come out against the law known as ‘Don’t say Gay, ” he spoke with Florida governor Ron DeSantis and agreed with the governor that Disney should not have made a public statement on the topic.
Perlmutter’s battle with Disney significantly predates the recent situation, however. He had previously been the head of all of Marvel, including Marvel Studios. Back in 2015, there was a clash of ideologies between Perlmutter and Kevin Feige, which resulted in Perlmutter nearly firing Feige. Bob Iger sided with Feige and made him the head of Marvel Studios, allowing Feige to report directly to him, cutting Perlmutter out of the loop. He was left in charge of Marvel’s comics and merchandising but was not involved in the profitable film side anymore.
As Ike Perlmutter says, he may no longer be employed by Disney, but he is still the largest shareholder, so likely we haven’t heard the last of him when it comes to Disney’s future. If Perlmutter has something he wants to say, people will listen.