A long-running battle came to a fairytale ending Friday as
and a pair of dissident former directors agreed to end hostilities.
The Burbank, Calif., media company and its longtime critics, Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, signaled the truce in a joint statement saying they have "agreed to put aside the differences that have characterized their relationship over the past several years."
With the cease-fire, the former directors withdrew a lawsuit they filed this spring accusing Disney's board of failing to conduct a thorough CEO search. They also agreed not to wage any proxy battles for five years. In return, Disney agreed to nominate Roy Disney to the important post of director emeritus.
Disney and Gold filed a lawsuit in early May alleging that the board made false statements to shareholders about its CEO search to secure votes for the incumbent board at the company's annual meeting. The lawsuit said that the board took the action to prevent Disney and Gold from offering an alternative slate of directors at the meeting. The pair was also suing CEO-elect Robert Iger, departing chief Michael Eisner and other board members for fraud and breach of disclosure in the matter.
The suit was particularly notable because it came at a time when the dissidents, who had been among Eisner's most vocal critics, were seemingly shifting their tactics to target Iger and the board. But Friday's actions suggest that Iger, who has already made some apparent progress in mending fences with other Disney partners like
chief Steve Jobs, continues to make progress in changing Disney's once-standoffish reputation.
Most notably, Disney and Gold expressed confidence in Iger's leadership. On the eve of Eisner's retirement after 21 years with Disney, the two acknowledged his contributions.
Disney shares were up 2.25% to $25 at market close.