ANAHEIM, Calif. - Pixar stole the show Friday at The Walt Disney Co. shareholders meeting. Robert Iger got a warm welcome at his first meeting as Disney CEO when he outlined initiatives planned at theme parks and in the TV and film units.
But it was the $7.4 billion deal to buy longtime partner Pixar Animation Studios Inc. that shareholders seemed to care about the most.
The deal not only shores up Disney’s flagging animation efforts but also symbolizes Iger’s ability to repair relationships damaged under Disney’s longtime CEO Michael Eisner.
The several thousand shareholders who gathered at the Arrowhead Pond, just blocks from the Disneyland theme park, cheered when Pixar’s chief creative officer John Lasseter took the stage.
Lasseter showed clips from his latest animated film ‘‘Cars’’ and a sneak peak at Pixar’s next film, ‘‘Ratatouille.’’ He praised Iger after saying he had reservations when Disney first suggested buying Pixar. ‘‘I was worried until I got to know Bob Iger,’’ Lasseter said.
Pixar President Ed Catmull will become head of Walt Disney Animation when the acquisition closes in late April or early May. Lasseter will be the creative head of Disney animation and a creative consultant to the theme parks.
Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, who will take a seat on Disney’s board and become the company’s largest shareholder, was not at Friday’s meeting.
Jobs previously broke off talks to extend Pixar’s relationship with Disney because of personal conflicts with Eisner but renewed talks after Iger was named to head the company last year. No mention was made Friday of Eisner, who left the company last September. Shareholders also cheered when former board member Roy E. Disney was introduced. He led a shareholders revolt against Eisner.