Vice chairman Roy E. Disney resigned from Disney’s board of directors in what may have been a pre-emptive move considering the 73-year-old nephew of Walt Disney is over the company’s mandatory retirement age of 72. A long-time critic of Michael Eisner, Disney has also called for the CEO to step down in the wake slumping stock prices and ailing ratings for Disney-owned television network ABC.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney personally criticized Eisner’s leadership over the past seven years through a scathing three-page letter sent over the weekend. Among the issues reportedly cited in the letter is the cheapening of the Disney brand in the public eye and a failure to maintain relationships with business partners, including Pixar.
With help from Finding Nemo box office and home video receipts, Disney’s stocks are up by nearly 34% since the beginning of the year.
This is the second time Roy Disney has resigned from the board. He left in 1984 to help prevent a hostile takeover.
In August of this year, Roy Disney sold 43% of his family’s holdings in the Walt Disney Co. to Credit Suisse First Boston. In a complex deal known as a “forward transaction,” the sale allowed Disney to retain the voting rights associated with the shares for five years while realizing cash flow from the sale. There’s also an option for Disney to reclaim the shares at a later date for an agreed upon cash price.