For deal hounds, it does not get more dramatic than the made-for-TV moment yesterday morning. After a series of strategic announcements and strong earnings issued Wednesday night by The Walt Disney Company, CEO Bob Iger sat down with David Faber at Disney’s HQ Thursday morning for an extensive interview in which Mr. Iger discussed Disney’s restructuring, its path to streaming profitability, future plans and the proxy fight with Nelson Peltz.
When the interview was over, David turned it over to co-anchor Jim Cramer, who had Nelson Peltz on the phone live. “The proxy fight is over,” Mr. Peltz declared. (We screamed a little.) As he told Lauren Thomas at the Wall Street Journal “he [Bob Iger] said all the things that we would want him to do.”
The New York Times’ Lauren Hirsch and Brooks Barnes reported that with Iger back at the helm, Disney says it is focused on shareholder value, succession planning and a successful future. Iger, for his part, is solidifying his “mythology as one of corporate America’s most iconic CEOs,” according to Bloomberg’s Beth Kowitt.
Outside the gates of the Magic Kingdom, activists are piling into Salesforce like private planes in the Phoenix airport this weekend. It has been reported that Third Point’s Dan Loeb has now entered the stock, though the size of the stake and potential demands on the company remain unclear. For those keeping score, Third Point is now the fifth major activist in Salesforce. The nomination window is open Feb. 12 – March 14, and at this rate, there will be enough activists to fill a roster for the March Madness Tournament.
M&A is getting out of the doldrums and bear-hugs are done hibernating. Newmont, the world’s largest mining company, kicked things off with the priciest takeover bid of 2023 after offering $17 billion for Newcrest Mining. The next day, the largest self-storage company, Public Storage, unveiled its $11 billion hostile bid for Life Storage – the fourth biggest player in the industry.
With all this deal activity in less than a week, Axios’ Dan Primack notes that the Biden administration’s aggressive approach to antitrust has resulted in a new normal for dealmakers: any deal in any industry can expect some level of scrutiny. However, more eyeballs hasn’t translated into more wins for the FTC and DOJ. Just last week, the FTC suffered another blow after a judge sided with Meta in the acquisition of virtual reality fitness app maker Within Unlimited.
On the other hand, a more coordinated approach among U.S. regulators and certain global antitrust enforcers is proving effective in Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Activision. On Wednesday, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority provisionally concluded that the deal could harm consumers. Previously, the European Union’s antitrust authority also announced it was reviewing the deal, meaning the FTC had enough time to sue in its own administrative court instead of the typical move of first blocking the deal in federal court. Lawyers and dealmakers are watching closely as this more tactical approach among regulatory agencies will make mega deals that much harder.
Have a great weekend,