Isaac Perlmutter, the billionaire who sold Marvel to Disney in 2009 and had clashed with the company’s chief executive Bob Iger, has been ousted as part of the company’s round of job cuts, according to people familiar with the matter.
Perlmutter was chair of Disney’s Marvel Entertainment unit, which has become a blockbuster-making juggernaut for the entertainment group.
However, he had also used his significant shareholding to back an effort by activist investor Nelson Peltz to gain a seat on Disney’s board, putting him in contention with Iger, who resisted the push.
Peltz backed down after Iger announced plans to cut costs and eventually reinstate the dividend, which had been suspended during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Iger has had a tense relationship with Perlmutter since the two agreed that Disney would acquired Marvel. Perlmutter is said to have been outraged when Iger reorganised Marvel in 2015 to allow film producer Kevin Feige to report to the head of the Disney studio rather than the Marvel chair.
Since then, Feige has been named Marvel president and overseen the release of some of the highest-grossing movies of all time, including Avengers: Endgame and Black Panther.
This week, Iger started the process of cutting about 7,000 jobs at the company in an effort to save about $5.5bn. Since his return as Disney chief executive, Iger has stressed the need to reach profitability at its streaming operations by next year.
He has said he plans to slash $3bn from content budgets and $2.5bn in other costs.
In his book, Iger described Perlmutter as “a legendarily tough, reclusive character” and as having a reputation for being “penurious to the extreme”. But while he acknowledged having “disagreements” with Perlmutter, he “respected where he’d come from in his life”.
Iger’s cost-cutting plan blunted the primary arguments put forth by Peltz and Perlmutter, who began seeking changes at Disney months before Iger returned to the company.