Roy Disney Wants Eisner Gone Sooner

While news of Michael Eisner’s plans to step down as Walt Disney Co. CEO in 2006 was welcomed by many Disney dissidents, the most outspoken among them say two years is not soon enough. Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold yesterday sent an open letter to the non-employee members of Disney’s Board of Directors, urging them to bring in a new CEO a quickly as possible.

Disney and Gold also allege in the letter that Eisner intends to ask the Board to install him as chairman after he relinquishes the CEO title, which he would like to hand over to company president and COO Bob Iger. They write, "His ‘succession plan’ is for a company led by Michael Eisner and his obedient lieutenant, Bob Iger, to be handed over to–Michael Eisner and Bob Iger. Any arrangement that permits Mr. Eisner to remain as Chairman after relinquishing his position as CEO is contrary to best governance practices."

The letter asks the Board to immediately engage an independent executive recruiting firm to conduct a worldwide search for a "strong visionary leader" to replace Eisner before the 2005 annual stockholder meeting. Disney and Gold state, "Because we believe that no one with the skill, experience, dynamism and creativity needed to lead Disney will take the job if Mr. Eisner remains as CEO or chairman, we ask you to concurrently announce that Michael Eisner will retire as CEO and as a director at the conclusion of that search."

Eisner, who has been CEO of the Walt Disney Co. for two decades, plans to give up the title when his contract expires on Sept. 30, 2006.