Walt Disney Co. has appointed technology and media veteran Carolyn Everson to its board after reaching a truce with Dan Loeb’s Third Point Partners. The activist recently backed down on his push for Disney to spin off sports broadcaster ESPN after the media giant rejected the idea.
Late on Friday, Disney unveiled a deal with Third Point that includes the addition of former Instacart and Facebook executive Carolyn Everson to the board, effective November 21. Everson’s career includes leadership roles at Microsoft and at Viacom, now part of Paramount Global.
Under the agreement, Third Point pledged to refrain from seeking other board changes, making shareholder proposals, or buying more than 2% of Disney’s share capital until April 2024 or until Everson steps down. Everson also sits on the boards of Coca Cola Co. and Creative Artists Agency, Disney noted.
“We are pleased with our productive and ongoing dialogue with [chief executive] Bob [Chapek] and Disney’s management team,” said Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point owns about 0.4% of Disney.
In mid-August, Loeb wrote a letter to Chapek saying that he planned to push for a string of changes at Disney. The activist argued spinning off ESPN would allow Disney to reduce its $46-billion debt load. Loeb also called on Disney to fully integrate Hulu – the streaming company part-owned with Comcast – cut costs and add new directors to fill what he called the board’s “gaps in talent and experience.”
Two weeks ago, Loeb suggested that he was no longer interested in pressing Disney to separate ESPN after Chapek said in an interview that he had confidence in the sports channel’s value within the media group. Still, Loeb said that his firm had “a better understanding” of ESPN’s potential as a standalone business.
Disney shares were up 1% at $95.40 apiece after the first 30 minutes of trading Monday in New York. They are down 38% so far this year.