The board of directors of The Walt Disney Co. has elected Nike Executive Chairman Mark G. Parker as its new chairman.
Parker, a seven-year member of the board, will officially become chairman after the annual meeting of shareholders takes place later this spring.
He replaces Susan Arnold who was termed out of running for re-election. As a result, the size of the board will be reduced to 11 members, according to a release from Disney.
Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said that he looked forward to continuing to work with Parker in his new role.
“On behalf of my fellow Board members and the entire Disney management team, I also want to thank Susan for her superb leadership as chairman and for her tireless work over the past 15 years as an exemplary steward of the Disney brand,” Iger said in a statement.
Parker said he was honored to have the opportunity to serve as Disney’s chairman.
“I look forward to working closely with Bob and his management team on a strategy of growth that balances investment with profitability, while preserving Disney’s core mission of creative excellence, to deliver shareholder value,” Parker said in a statement. “At the same time, it is the top priority of mine and the Board’s to identify and prepare a successful CEO successor, and that process has already begun.”
Parker has been appointed as chairman of a newly created succession planning committee of the board, which will advise the board on CEO succession planning, including review of internal and external candidates, the Disney release said.
Additionally, the board is asking shareholders to not vote for Nelson Peltz, the nominee of activist investor group Trian Fund Management L.P., as a member of the board at the annual meeting to take place later this spring. Peltz is co-founder of Trian.
Disney has enormous potential but is struggling with numerous challenges and must act with urgency to accelerate profitability in its direct-to-consumer, or streaming, business, Peltz said.
“As a highly engaged shareholder serving on Disney’s Board, my goal would be to work collaboratively with Bob Iger and other directors to take decisive action that will result in improved operations and financial performance, enhanced shareholder value and a robust succession planning process that will set the stage for sustainable growth over the long term,” Peltz said in a statement.
Shares in Disney closed up $3.48, or about 3.6%, to $99.81 on the New York Stock Exchange, on a day when the Dow Jones closed up a fraction of a percent.