March 8, 2012 / 1:53 PM / 7 years ago

Disney shrugs off shareholder concern on CEO role

Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Co. attends a media briefing in Glendale, Calfornia September 20, 2011 at which he announced a long-term agreement which will bring "Avatar" themed lands to Disney parks with the the first at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co, which recently voted to give the chairman’s post to Chief Executive Robert Iger, said it disagreed with a longtime shareholder that the move would hurt the company.

On Wednesday, Connecticut Treasurer Denise Nappier, whose public pension fund owns about 642,000 shares of the company, urged shareholders to vote against the re-election of governance-committee board members, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“(Disney) strongly disagrees with Ms. Nappier’s position which utterly disregards both the company’s record of financial performance and that nine out of the ten directors will be independent,” the entertainment and theme-park company said in a statement Wednesday.

Disney said 68 percent of the top 100 S&P companies have a joint CEO and chairman, and that combining the positions was part of a carefully considered succession plan.

Nappier’s statement echoes independent proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services’ opinion earlier this week that Disney’s move “reversed an earlier commitment to independent board leadership without transparency or shareholder input.

ISS has said that the move was “an about-face” from reforms adopted after some shareholders objected in 2004 to former CEO Michael Eisner also holding the chairman’s job.

Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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