Walt Disney Co. shareholders on Friday reelected by an overwhelming margin the 13 directors of the entertainment and media giant's board, including Chairman George Mitchell, who had been facing a challenge by an influential proxy advisory firm.
Preliminary results indicate that the directors were reelected with 94 percent of shares in favor, Burbank-based Disney announced at the company's annual meeting in Anaheim.
Mitchell, 72, had been scheduled to retire this year but was asked by the company to stay on while the company is in the midst of acquiring its most important animation partner, Pixar .
"The addition of Pixar is going to raise the whole level of the company," Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, told Bloomberg News. "It's already created so much more excitement and that is going to be key to our growth.''
Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said during the meeting that the company expects to close the Pixar deal in late April or early May. Pixar Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who will join Disney's board, has been talked about as a possible successor to Mitchell.
Chief Executive Robert Iger told Bloomberg that the company is considering a succession plan for Mitchell, who has been a director since 1995 and chairman since 2004. Going into the meeting, Mitchell's reelection was supported by one proxy firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, but opposed by another, Glass Lewis & Co.
Unlike recent years when Iger's predecessor, Michael Eisner, presided over more contentious shareholder gatherings, the potential challenge to Mitchell had been expected to be one of the few pieces of drama this year. Since assuming the top post last fall, Iger has been praised for his efforts to rebuild bridges with partners like Jobs and promoting initiatives that include distributing more content on mobile and other new media platforms.
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