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Markets brace for Taiwan earthquake disruption; Disney reportedly wins board battle – business

Key events

Elon Musk is not a Disney shareholder – so it is unclear why he is getting involved. However, he has never been one to turn down the chance of a scrap.

The immediate prompt for his posts just now was another billionaire activist investor, Bill Ackman. Ackman, who is not directly involved in the Disney board battle, published an article-length post on Musk’s social network, X, calling for the US regulator to investigate the Disney board battle.

Ackman said that the Securities and Exchange Commission should look at who has leaked results of the Disney vote – which is not finalised. He accused the company and/or its advisers of being behind the leak, although he did not have any direct evidence other than the fact that “Only the company and its advisers have access to how shareholders have voted before the day of the annual meeting.”

Disney has been approached for comment.

There have been a few recent articles in the press about @Disney ‘winning’ its proxy contest with Nelson Peltz based on early election returns that have been leaked to the media. We don’t have an investment in Disney, but I thought it useful to point out the inappropriateness of…

— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) April 2, 2024

Ackman, the veteran of many battles with company boards, said that he believed the company was trying to sway institutional investors who might be wavering in the close vote. He wrote:

Here, the company and/or its advisers have leaked the early results in order to tip more institutions and other shareholders to vote for the incumbent board, unfairly tipping the scale in the incumbent board’s favor.

Elon Musk says Nelson Peltz would improve Disney

Elon Musk, speaking at a symposium about antisemitism, in Krakow, Poland, on 22 January 2024. Photograph: undefined/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tesla boss Elon Musk has said that Nelson Peltz would “significantly improve Disney’s share price” if he joined the board.

Musk, the world’s third richest man according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, also said that he would “definitely” buy Disney shares if Peltz were elected.

Nelson Peltz should definitely be on the Disney board!

He would help reform the company, improve the quality of product and generally serve in the best interests of shareholders, as he has done at many other companies.

This would significantly improve Disney’s share price.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2024

While I don’t own any Disney shares today, I would definitely buy their shares if Nelson were elected to the board.

His track record is excellent.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2024

A Ryanair plane takes off from Budapest Airport, in Budapest, Hungary, in 2022. Photograph: Anna Szilagyi/AP

Ryanair has said that it cancelled almost 950 flights during March because of the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

The Irish airline said that it carried 1m more passengers during March 2024 compared with March 2023. That represented an 8% increase to 13.6m. The airline’s load factor was unchanged.

Ryanair is the world’s second most valuable by market capitalisation, behind only the US’s Delta. It flew 77,000 flights in March, and has flown 183.7m passengers during the last 12 months.

London’s FTSE 100 and Milan’s FTSE MIB are the biggest fallers of the main European stock market indices this morning. Both have lost 0.3%.

There are no major individual movers on the FTSE 100, however: the biggest faller is BT Group, down 1.7%.

Elsewhere in Europe it is a more mildly positive story. Here are the opening snaps via Reuters from across the rest of Europe:

  • EUROPE’S STOXX 600 UP 0.1%

  • FRANCE’S CAC 40 UP 0.2%, SPAIN’S IBEX UP 0.1%



Chipmakers evacuate Taiwan factories after earthquake

Good morning, and welcome to our live, rolling coverage of business, economics and financial markets.

The biggest earthquake in 25 years has hit Taiwan, killing at least seven people. On financial markets investors are bracing for disruption to the island’s crucial technology companies.

Taiwan plays a central role in the global economy because of its status as a manufacturing hub for computer chips, as well as its companies in the broader technology supply chain.

The earthquake’s epicentre was on the east coast of the island, while most of its tech manufacturing is based in the west. Nevertheless, the quake affected production at chip fabs, which rely on very sensitive machinery.

The share price of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which makes most of the world’s cutting-edge chips on behalf of others, dropped by 1.3% on Wednesday. The company said in a statement it was still trying to work out the impact of the earthquake on its operations:

TSMC’s safety systems are operating normally. Preventive measures were initiated according to procedure and some fabs were evacuated. All personnel are safe, and those evacuated are beginning to return to their workplaces.

The company is currently confirming the details of the impact. Initial inspections show that construction sites are normal.

However, the company has decided to suspend work at construction sites for today, and work will resume following further inspections.

Shares in major Apple supplier Foxconn dropped by 1.4%, while TV panel manufacturer Au Optronics fell by 1.9%.

Disney reportedly fends off Nelson Peltz

Disney has reportedly managed to fend off a bid for board seats from activist investment billionaire Nelson Peltz. That would be a victory for prominent Disney chief executive Bob Iger.

Peltz’s hedge fund, Trian Fund Management, has failed to win enough shareholder backers to install Peltz and former Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo on the entertainment company’s board, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources. Reuters said:

Enough votes had been cast as of Tuesday evening to put Disney’s board directors safely ahead of Trian’s two challengers.

Investors could still change their votes. However, if the result is confirmed at Wednesday’s annual meeting as expected it would represent a significant relief for Disney’s management.

Peltz has campaigned for board seats for months, arguing that the House of Mouse was too late to develop a coherent streaming strategy and that it overpaid on its $71bn acquisition of Fox.

However, Iger successfully won around well-known and powerful investors including Steve Jobs’s widow Laurene Powell Jobs, JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon and Star Wars creator George Lucas

The agenda

  • 10am BST: Euro area inflation rate flash reading (March; previous: 2.6% year-on-year; consensus: 2.6%)

  • 10am BST: Euro area unemployment rate (February; prev.: 6.4%; cons.: 6.4%)

  • 1:15pm BST: US ADP employment change (March; prev.: 140,000 jobs; cons.: 148,000)


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