Roy Disney to oust Walt Disney executives

Roy Disney, a former Walt Disney Co. director, is luring hundreds of dissident shareholders to the company's annual meeting in Philadelphia as part of a campaign to oust Michael Eisner.

Victor Esprit, a travel co-ordinator working with Mr. Disney, said he has booked more than 300 hotel rooms and 100 flights to Philadelphia from as far away as France for investors who want Mr. Eisner to step down as chairman and chief executive officer.

"They're coming in from all over, from the U.S., Mexico and Canada; there's even a couple from Paris," Mr. Esprit, who works at North Hollywood, Calif.-based Bullrush Travel, said in an interview. "They feel the direction Disney is taking is not the right one."

Mr. Disney, a nephew of the company founder, and ex-Disney director Stanley Gold will play host to an investor conference in Philadelphia today, one day before the company's annual meeting. They also have set up a website to lobby shareholders to vote against Mr. Eisner. Their goal is to register a loud enough vote of no confidence to make the board seek Mr. Eisner's ouster after 20 years as CEO, inform &to=' target=_blank>GlobeAndMail

Roy Disney employed just such a divide-and-conquer strategy in 1984, quitting the board, launching a shareholder battle that forced out Walt Disney's son-in-law Ron Miller as CEO. He then returned. It was Roy Disney and Gold who recruited Eisner.

This week, the two ex-directors remain focused on their "Save Disney" campaign to boot Eisner and three key allies on the 11-member Disney board: George Mitchell, Judith Estrin and John Bryson, spokesman Mike Sitrick says. The ex-directors will stage a press conference and rally Tuesday in Philadelphia, less than 24 hours before Eisner takes the stage at what's sure to be one of the most-watched business events of the year. The event takes place only a few blocks from the headquarters of cable giant Comcast, which has launched a hostile takeover bid, inform &to=' target=_blank>USA Today

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