Six institutional investors in the Walt Disney Co., with more than $500 billion in assets among them, requested an immediate meeting with the entertainment giant's board of directors to discuss performance and governance concerns. The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the nation's largest pension fund, sent a letter on behalf of other pension plans to Disney's new chairman, George Mitchell, saying they are "deeply concerned that our investments and the future of this company are in jeopardy." Despite an improvement in the company's financial performance in recent months, Disney stock has dropped 20 percent in value over the past five years. Mitchell said the board was agreeable to such a meeting. The status of chief executive Michael Eisner, a target of stockholder discontent, is not on the agenda for the meeting, a spokesman for the funds said.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the world's biggest buyout firm, said it is returning $5.9 billion to investors after more than tripling their money via last year's surge in stock prices. KKR took advantage of the surge to sell off shares in five companies through initial public offerings - among them Amphenol Corp., a leading maker of electronic components; Canada's Yellow Pages Group; and British insurance broker Willis Group Holdings Ltd. KKR already has paid investors $3.2 billion and plans to distribute an additional $2.7 billion by the end of June, the financial news service Bloomberg.com reported. Since its founding in 1976, KKR has financed almost $115 billion worth of corporate takeovers, largely through high-risk, high-yield loans.
US Oncology Inc., a manager of cancer-treatment centers, agreed to sell total control for $1.7 billion to Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a private equity firm in New York. The buyer already owns a 14.5 percent stake in the Houston company and has announced plans to take it private, subject to shareholder approval.