Disney's Board Carries the Day This Time

Disney (DIS) shareholders sent a message to the company's board Friday: Nearly all is forgiven.

Each of the company's 12 directors received the support of at least 92.2% of voting stockholders for their re-election to the company's board, it was announced at the media and entertainment conglomerate's annual meeting Friday.

The ballot, tallied from proxies representing nearly 88% of shares eligible to vote, comes a year after an unprecedented 45% of votes were withheld for CEO Michael Eisner.

Criticism of Eisner -- which came from multiple sources for a variety of reasons -- climaxed in Eisner's loss of his post as chairman of Disney's board immediately after the contentious shareholder meeting last March.

Eisner was replaced as chairman by George Mitchell, who himself received "withhold" votes from nearly 26% of voting shareholders.

Criticism of Eisner and the rest of Disney's board this year -- both leading up to the shareholder meeting in Minneapolis and at the shareholder meeting before the preliminary board election results were announced -- was muted.

When the company opened up discussion on the directors' election at the meeting Friday, the only speaker was perennial gadfly and irritating microphone hog Evelyn Y. Davis. In her characteristically meandering comments, the shareholder announced she was voting for all directors.

Before the meeting, disgruntled former directors Roy Disney -- Walt's nephew -- and Stanley Gold announced that they were withholding their votes for the complete board, though they were not campaigning to have others do so as well.

Last year, Disney and Gold targeted Eisner and Mitchell in a no-confidence campaign, going so far as to hold an anti-Eisner pep rally the day before the meeting. Gold also hammered away at Eisner and the rest of the board during the actual meeting last year.

Though only 7.8% of shareholders withheld votes for Eisner this year, according to the preliminary proxy tally offered at the meeting, he still proved to be the least popular of the directors on the board. Second place honors went to Mitchell, from whom 6.9% of votes were withheld.

Other directors received withhold votes of 6.1% at most.

Disney's shares rose 6 cents Friday to trade at $29.41.

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