Trian Fund Management, now pushing for seat at Disney, lost 10.6% in 2022

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Trian Fund Management, the activist investment firm currently pushing for changes plus a board seat at Walt Disney Co, posted a return of negative 10.6% last year when many hedge funds nursed losses, people familiar with the number said.

Trian’s co-founder, Nelson Peltz, has criticized Disney for bungled succession planning and rising costs at its streaming service and he is pushing for a board seat, arguing he has the operational know-how to help repair the damage.

Disney is denying Peltz a board seat, saying the activist investor “lacked the skills and experience” to help the media and entertainment giant.

Trian’s performance is better than the average activist hedge fund which lost an average 17.2% in 2022, according to data from Hedge Fund Research. Activism is a strategy pursued by a relatively small number of firms that essentially bet on a publicly traded company and promise their investors that its share price will rise when their changes are adopted.

A Trian representative declined to comment.

In 2021, activist investment firms earned an average 16% and they were up an average 10% in 2020, HFR data shows.

2022 was an especially rough year in the stock market with the S&P 500 Index down 19.4%.

The standoff between Disney and Peltz’s Trian Fund Management is shaping up to become one of the year’s most hotly contested board room challenges with a prominent activist who has personally served on 11 boards during his career challenging an iconic American company and Bob Iger, a popular CEO who recently returned from retirement to tackle the media company’s problems.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)