Disney Cuts Board by Four Members

Times Staff Writer

Walt Disney Co. said four long-standing directors would leave its board in connection with the company's ongoing corporate governance reform.

Sidney Poitier, Robert A.M. Stern, Reveta Bowers and Andrea Van de Kamp won't stand for reelection to the Disney board at its annual meeting in March, Disney said. The move shrinks the board to 13 members in keeping with a previously announced plan to streamline the panel and reduce the number of directors with close ties to Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Eisner.

Three of the four retiring members had business or personal connections to the Disney chairman. Bowers is the principal of a school once attended by Eisner's children. Stern, who provided architectural services to Eisner, last year was stripped of his standing as an independent board member. Similarly, Van de Kamp's independent status was questioned after Disney revealed that she had served as a director of the Walt Disney Concert Hall until November.

The Burbank-based media giant last year disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission was examining the independence of Disney's directors.

Poitier had served on the board since 1994.

Disney also nominated 13 current directors, including nine independent directors, for reelection. Acting on the advice of Ira Millstein, a corporate governance expert, the board is modifying its practices, including formalizing a CEO succession plan, Disney said.

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