Michael Eisner quit the board of directors at the Walt Disney Co. several months earlier than expected, the company said in a regulatory filing Oct. 6, severing his ties to the company he led for more


LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Michael Eisner quit the board of directors at the Walt Disney Co. several months earlier than expected, the company said in a regulatory filing Oct. 6, severing his ties to the company he led for more than 20 years and perhaps freeing himself to pursue other opportunities in the entertainment industry.

Eisner, whose tenure as Disney's chief executive ended Oct. 8, had maintained that he would keep his board seat until his term expired at the next shareholder meeting early next year. But Disney said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that Eisner resigned as a director Sept. 30 and that "he no longer provides any services" to Disney.

The SEC filing also described new CEO Robert Iger's compensation package in lengthy detail.

Iger's five-year deal includes a base salary of at least $2 million annually and makes him eligible -- based on certain performance criteria -- for yearly bonuses of at least $7.25 million.

Iger also was given a one-time grant of 500,000 "performance stock units," or shares of Disney stock that might be vested if the stock outperforms the S&P 500 Index during various time frames.

Last year, as Disney reported record revenue and earnings, the company paid then-CEO Eisner a reported $8.31 million in salary and various bonuses.

Eisner's departure as a director leaves Disney with 11 board members, and it was unclear Oct. 6 whether Eisner would be replaced. Disney also is seeking a chairman to replace Sen. George Mitchell upon his planned retirement next year.

"We're not surprised at all," David Miller of Wall Street firm Sanders Morris Harris in Los Angeles said about Eisner's departure.

"We know he hasn't much set foot at Disney for four months," Miller said. "Michael is more interested in his post-Disney career than he is in his board seat."

Miller has a "buy" recommendation on Disney shares and a $32 price target. Shares closed down 14 cents Oct. 6 to $24.09, off 13.3% on the year.

Although Eisner has said he has no intention of remaining idle after leaving Disney, he hasn't offered specific plans. Some observers speculate he will found his own multimedia company, much like Bob and Harvey Weinstein have done since breaking free of Disney.

"I don't imagine Michael sitting around a pool in Bel-Air," Miller said. "I see him creating and nurturing television and movie content. He's one of the greatest script editors in the industry. Wall Street has never focused on that."


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