By Dawn Chmielewski and Lisa Richwine
(Reuters) -Walt Disney Co has laid off Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter as part of a cost-cutting campaign, a source confirmed on Wednesday.
Perlmutter, 80, had supported activist shareholder Nelson Peltz’s unsuccessful bid this year to obtain a seat on Disney’s corporate board.
The executive was informed by phone Wednesday that Marvel Entertainment, a small division within the company responsible for comic book publishing and some consumer products, would be merged into larger Disney business units, according to a second source with knowledge of the matter.
Perlmutter could not be immediately reached for comment.
Dan Buckley, president of Marvel Entertainment, will remain and report to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, the second source said.
Disney began to eliminate 7,000 jobs on Monday, in an effort to save $5.5 billion in costs and make its streaming business profitable.
Perlmutter, who outmaneuvered billionaire Carl Icahn for control of the comic book publisher in the late 1990s, sold Marvel to Disney for $4 billion in 2009. Disney said at the time that Perlmutter would continue to oversee Marvel properties.
In 2015, Disney CEO Bob Iger restructured Marvel, placing Marvel Studios under Walt Disney Studios. Iger described the decision in his autobiography, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” saying he detected “a growing tension” between the New York-based Marvel team and the film group in Hollywood, adding, “I had to intervene.”
It was a decision that multiple sources say angered Perlmutter, who retained the title of chairman of Marvel Entertainment, but would have no oversight of the film studio’s budgets or creative process.
Perlmutter, who friends say was upset with Disney’s financial performance under its former chief executive, Bob Chapek, took the unusual step of contacting Disney board members and executives multiple times last year to advocate for Peltz to join the board, according to regulatory filings.
Peltz and Perlmutter are friends who travel in the same social circles in Palm Beach, Florida.
Disney insiders had expressed incredulity at Perlmutter’s work on behalf of an activist shareholder. One outside advisor to the entertainment company said Perlmutter may have been motivated by his anger at seeing his role at the company diminished.
The New York Times first reported Perlmutter’s ouster.
(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles, Urvi Dugar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Nick Zieminski)