“There was plenty of applause to go around on Mar. 10 at Disney’s first annual meeting under CEO Robert Iger, who replaced Michael Eisner in October. Iger got a healthy reception from the estimated 4,000 Disney faithful in Anaheim,” Ronald Grover reports for BusinessWeek. “There was wild cheering — and some whoops — for former Disney board member Roy Disney, who led the shareholder revolt that eventually forced Eisner’s early departure. Even Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, founder Walt’s pre-Mickey Mouse creation, got a hand when his image flashed on the giant screen behind Iger. Rights to Oswald were recently reacquired from Universal Pictures, Iger explained… But the biggest hand was reserved for a guy who wasn’t even at the meeting: Steve Jobs, the mercurial Apple Computer founder. Jobs is scheduled to join the Disney board in a few months, when Disney’s $7.4 billion deal to buy Jobs’s Pixar Animation Studios becomes official.”
“Notably absent from the lovefest was Eisner, the company’s largest shareholder with a 1.7% stake,” Grover reports. “While Jobs didn’t make the trip to Anaheim from Northern California, the studio was represented by its top creative guru, onetime Disney animator John Lasseter, the creative force behind such Pixar hits as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. Under the terms of the Pixar deal, Lasseter is scheduled to become Disney’s top creative officer, with influence both at the company’s theme parks and in animation… The animation wiz then introduced film clips of the next two films that Pixar is making for Disney — Cars, debuting in June, 2006, and Ratatouille, scheduled to come out in June, 2007. A good sign for Disney shareholders: The place was rolling with laughs as Lasseter played the 10 minute trailer for Cars.
Full article here.
Steve Jobs will become Disney’s largest shareholder with an estimated 7% stake, dwarfing Eisner, when the Pixar deal becomes official. There is also speculation that Jobs will replace outgoing Chairman of the Board George Mitchell later this year along with rumblings that Apple Computer might launch a bid to buyout Disney.
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