Will Eisner survive the 'Spring at Disney'?

MUMBAI: They call it Spring at Disney - the Disney corporate board meeting held every April.

This year's meet, that is currently underway, happens to be one of the most closely watched corporate board meetings in recent memory. The meet will decide the fate of CEO Michael Eisner who was ousted from the post of chairman following an investors' revolt on 3 March. Till then, he was holding the twin posts of chairman and CEO.

Media reports suggest that some high-profile investors have called on Disney directors to dismiss Eisner, whose contract ends in September 2006. But not many Disney observers are anticipating such drastic action as Eisner's dismissal. Directors of Disney are also expected to analyse the post-March developments during the meet.

In March, Eisner had agreed to step down as chairman after 43 per cent of shareholders withheld their votes from Eisner has been blamed by some for the lackluster performance of the media-entertainment powerhouse in recent years. The company has acknowledged several of its movies biting the dust at the box-office, including the recent releases Home on the Range and The Alamo. Disney has also moved to shake up the management at its struggling ABC (American Broadcasting Company) television network.

The meeting has attracted a lot of media glare also because it might signal the future of Comcast Corporation's unsolicited bid. Aspiring Disney-owner Comcast has been keeping mum in recent weeks on its outstanding offer for Disney, as they are awaiting quarterly earnings announcement this Wednesday. At the same time, some reports suggest that Comcast is ready to withdraw its bid.

"The board at Disney has two options: oust Mr. Eisner today in order to open the door to an internal successor or keep him and his preternatural resistance to grooming senior executive talent at the expense of his perceived responsibility for Disney's performance," reads an article in Red

Meanwhile, dissident shareholders Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold lashed against the Disney's director board in their web site Making a dig at Eisner and his colleagues, Stanley Gold writes: "Well, Spring at Disney is here again! And do you know how we can tell? They're rearranging the deck chairs again at ABC. It's an annual festival, a little like Musical Chairs, where everyone moves up, down, or over a place or two and pretends it's the solution to the fourth place dilemma. And there are always a few faces missing when it's over."

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