The tug-of-war in the wonderful world of Walt Disney has come to an end. On the one hand, there was the bulk of the stockholders, i.e. the current directors, supported by some of the proxy advisory firms, including Glass Lewis, and by BlackRock and T. Rowe Price, the giant's largest shareholders, with 4.2% and 0.5% respectively, as well as Norges Bank Investment Management. They argued (broadly speaking) for a status quo, and for their own re-election to the board. They are led by Bob Iger.

Opposing them is Nelson Peltz, activist investor and head of Trian Fund Management, holder of 1.8% of outstanding shares, who would have liked to join the board with former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, at the expense of two current members (Maria Elena Lagomasino and Michael Froman).

Peltz has a bone to pick: he deplores Iger's numerous contract extensions at the helm, and the fact that no credible replacement has been proposed or found. He also believes that Disney' s performance (and its share price) is below what it should be, and below that of its competitors. Unsurprisingly, he puts the blame on Iger, who's been intermittently at the helm since 2005, even though he was behind the major acquisitions that shaped the current Disney, including Pixar and Marvel.

He is backed by Neuberger Berman (0.1% of shares), California Public Employees' Retirement System - or Calpers - (0.36%), which advocates a fresh look, and to some extent by the influential consultancy Institutional Shareholder Services, which plays the diplomat (or ass between two chairs), praising both Peltz and the former directors.

In the third row, activist investor Blackwells Capital has taken advantage of all this to advance its own pawns: 3 of its candidates. It is firing live rounds at Peltz, arguing that Trian's campaign is motivated solely by hostility to Iger and a desire to take credit for the group's recent successes.

Game of Thrones

For several weeks, each of the three parties has been drumming up support, devising strategies, pointing out the shortcomings of the opposing lists and trying to attract as many votes as possible.

At the parent company, Iger's camp, the focus was on Peltz's lack of experience in the entertainment sector, making deep cuts in group spending to silence the most avaricious, and investing massively in video games and theme parks. It quickly set in motion major initiatives in sports streaming and acted methodically in response to each of Peltz's criticisms, particularly in the television networks. It also enlisted the support of some big names: George Lucas (Star Wars), Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan), and the list goes on.

Yesterday, the giant's annual general meeting was held, in an atmosphere that one imagines to be far removed from the good-natured spirit advocated by Disney. Iger won. He retains the helm and boasts renewed support.

But now there's a major flaw in the princess's castle: Peltz won 31% of the vote. This is no mean feat, and means that in the future, Bob Iger's decisions will be under scrutiny, the slightest misstep more difficult to forgive, and the question of his succession will have to be tackled promptly.

Drawing by Amandine Victor