An “activist” investor with a “questionable personal and business history” appears to be launching a defensive campaign on behalf of Disney CEO Bob Iger in order to apparently disparage another investor’s actions at a separate company.
The Dallas Express has previously reported about Jason Aintabi and Blackwells Capital’s hostile activities against local hotel REIT Braemar Hotels & Resorts with the help of Vinson & Elkins.
The investment management firm Ancora Holdings Group, LLC, a shareholder of The Walt Disney Company, suggested that Aintabi, principal at Blackwells Capital, was engaging in a smear campaign against Ancora’s pick for a Disney board seat.
“We believe the record shows Mr. Aintabi is a publicity-seeking greenmailer with a questionable personal and business history,” wrote Ancora’s leadership in a letter to Disney shareholders. “On the other hand, it is widely known that [Nelson] Peltz [of Trian Fund Management] is a pioneer in shareholder activism, who has made billions of dollars over many decades for himself, his partners, and fellow shareholders in the companies in which he has invested.”
At issue has been the state of the Disney business in recent years, which has allegedly been marred by underperformance.
“Many of Disney’s current directors and executives bear responsibility for lapses that have undermined the Company’s positioning in the exceedingly competitive and ever-changing entertainment world,” Ancora’s letter reads. “… The Board’s stewardship issues have not only resulted in financial setbacks. By allowing Disney to devote shareholders’ resources to a number of politicized initiatives, the Board has overseen a deterioration of what was once the most unifying brand in the world.”
Disney has been criticized for purportedly going “woke” in terms of its content and publicly supporting far-left political positions.
Aintabi defended Iger and Disney’s leadership team in a letter, despite the stock’s roughly 53% decline since March of 2021.
“Disney has one of the most attractive portfolios of beloved brands and businesses. The combined stewardship of the refreshed Board and the leadership of Mr. Iger, offer Disney shareholders the best opportunity to surface value,” said Aintabi, per a press release. “Mr. Peltz and Trian need to withdraw this costly and disruptive effort to displace experienced voices in the boardroom and substitute them with Mr. Peltz and his nominees.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Aintabi has made a habit of publicly targeting companies and their executives, having developed a reputation as a publicity seeker. He has also seemingly been known to engage in what could be described as retaliatory litigation.
Several years ago, Aintabi sued a hospitality company his firm had hired after an employee of that company had revealed to colleagues that she had allegedly witnessed him taking a shot of alcohol from the cleavage of a woman at a hotel bar. Aintabi sued the employee and the hospitality company, claiming he had suffered personal and professional damage to his reputation.
Aintabi’s lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.
Disclaimer: The chairman of the board of Braemar Hotels & Resorts also serves as the publisher for The Dallas Express.