(The Hollywood Reporter) — Participants in the more than two-year battle that has defined the Walt Disney Co.’s association with Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold have called a truce, ending legal action that might have had the ex-board members squaring off against Disney’s top executives in a courtroom next month.
According to a statement issued by the company on July 8, pending legal action has been dropped, and the company has named Roy Disney a consultant and its director emeritus.
The pair of dissident former board members — as the duo have been cast by the media for the past two years — praised Michael Eisner, the outgoing CEO who has been the object of their disaffection.
Most recently, the duo had filed a lawsuit against the company, Eisner, CEO-elect Robert Iger and other board members seeking to undo the selection of Iger as Eisner’s replacement when he steps down in October and to overturn the election of several board members.
In the statement, however, the company said the parties “have agreed to put aside the differences that have characterized their relationship over the past several years.”
Gold and Roy Disney, nephew of the late company founder Walt Disney, also agreed not to run a rival slate of directors or even submit shareholder resolutions for at least five years.
“In putting aside their differences, the company noted Mr. Disney’s longtime devotion to the company and welcomed the re-establishment of a relationship with him and his family. Messrs. Disney and Gold expressed confidence in Mr. Iger’s leadership, and as Mr. Eisner retires after 21 years with the company, they acknowledged his contribution to the company over the years,” the company said in its statement.
The joint statement ends curtly, noting that “there will be no additional comment regarding this statement.”
Disney and Gold’s criticisms of Eisner and others at the company led to the pair resigning from the board of directors in protest of what Roy Disney said was behavior that resulted in the company earning a reputation for being “rapacious, soulless and always looking for the quick buck.”
The contentious association didn’t end there, though, as the suddenly ex-board members led a shareholder revolt that seemingly forced Eisner to announce his impending retirement and give up his board chairmanship to Sen. George Mitchell.
The most recent lawsuit filed by Roy Disney and Gold claimed that the company didn’t conduct an earnest search for a new CEO and that they were lied to about the search so that they’d be dissuaded from offering their own slate of directors for shareholders to elect.
The now-dropped lawsuit had named as defendants Mitchell, Eisner, Iger and the company itself, along with board members Judith Estrin, John Chen, Aylwin Lewis, Monica Lozano and Leo O’Donovan.