PHILADELPHIA -- Stanley Gold promised not to go quietly, and so far he's keeping his word.
Handed the microphone at
Wednesday morning shareholder meeting here, the dissident ex-director raised the stakes in the battle for control of this embattled Burbank, Calif., media giant.
Gold, who along with ex-director and founding family member Roy Disney seeks the firing of CEO Michael Eisner, told the audience at the Pennsylvania Convention Center that he expects 40% of shareholders voting at the annual meeting to oppose Eisner's re-election to the board.
Gold and Roy Disney previously have said that any no vote in the 20% range would represent a measure of no confidence for Eisner. For its part, Walt Disney has said it could see a no vote in the range of 30%, but the company so far has stood by Eisner. The dissidents haven't arranged for a competing slate of directors, but they hope to shame Disney's board into making a change at the top by publicizing opposition to Eisner.
The comments come as a move to force a management shake-up at Disney gathers steam. Gold and Roy Disney have criticized the company for some time, but over the last month a number of other critics have emerged, notably Steve Jobs of animation studio
and the heads of several state pension funds.
Eisner has headed Disney for 20 years but has drawn increasing criticism in recent years for his autocratic leadership style and the company's poor performance. The company has recently redoubled its efforts to boost earnings and wring more dollars out of its valuable theme park and media properties, and Disney has over the last year improved its long-criticized corporate governance structure.
But critics like Gold and Roy Disney say it's too little, too late. The stock is up sharply over the last year yet remains essentially flat with levels of five years ago.
"We're not going away until Mr. Eisner's gone," Gold told reporters Tuesday. "We don't believe he's capable of running this company anymore."
On Wednesday, Disney slipped 7 cents to $26.69.