Disney Dissidents Launch Latest Broadside

If you thought the hubbub over Disney ( DIS) CEO Michael Eisner was ready to simmer down, guess again.

Aiming to stir the debate back to yesterday's fever pitch, the media giant's foes issued a statement again rejecting Eisner's leadership. Dissident ex-directors Stanley Gold and Roy Disney thundered Thursday that Eisner must go, adding that Disney's indecisive board has left the company in a competitive quagmire.

Allowing Eisner to hold onto the top slot at the Burbank, Calif., company amounts to "a blatant rejection of shareholder will, a betrayal of trust and a significant step backwards for substantive governance reform in America's capital markets," Gold and Roy Disney said.

The move comes on the heels of Disney's latest effort to quell the building storm surrounding Eisner's leadership. In a surprising move late Wednesday, Disney's board stripped the longtime chief of his chairman post, handing that job to former Sen. George Mitchell.

Disney portrayed the move as a balanced response to shareholder concerns about Eisner's record and the company's commitment to even-handed corporate governance. But the dissidents again cited the no-confidence vote delivered by shareholders on Eisner's record, in which 43% of ballots cast opposed the CEO's re-election to the board.

Gold and Roy Disney also said "the public outcry from investors has been deafening," pointing to opposition from various public investment officers and good-governance types.

"It is clear from this action that corporate governance is just talk at the Walt Disney Company. We renew our call for substantive change beginning with the immediate commencement of a search for a new CEO and the selection of a truly independent Chairman of the Board," Gold and Roy Disney said. "The shareholders have spoken and the Board must respond appropriately."

Disney didn't have any immediate comment. On Thursday, the stock rose 2 cents to $26.82.

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