Who Owns Disney?

Who Owns Disney?

Who owns Disney? Disney is owned by many shareholders, as it’s a publicly traded company. According to CNN Business News, the Vanguard Group, Inc. is the largest shareholder of Walt Disney Co. with a 7.49% stake. Some of the other top shareholders of this company include BlackRock Fund Advisors, SSgA Funds Management Inc, and State Farm Investment Management. 

It’s important to note that a significant number of shareholders are institutional investors. According to the same report by CNN Business, 65% of investors are institutional, while a mere 8.65% are individual stakeholders. Other institutions and mutual fund holders represent the other remaining percentages.

A Brief History of Disney’s Ownership 

Walt Disney and his brother Roy founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio (what is today the Walt Disney Co.) in October 1923, in California. The company started as a small animation studio and has since grown into one of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies.

However, Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio wasn’t Walt’s first studio endeavor as he had a studio, Laugh-O-Gram Studio, which went bankrupt in 1923. Alice’s Wonderland was one of the first films their studio produced, and soon after, Mickey Mouse and Snow White hit the big screens. 

After the death of Walt in 1966, his brother Roy filled in the managerial role and ran the company. He led the company through a period of expansion, including the opening of Disney World in Florida in 1971.

Companies That Disney Owns

The expansion didn’t stop there: The company continued to grow in the 80s and 90s as it acquired new channels and theme parks. However, this period was challenging for Disney as there was a decline in demand for animation films, which was also coupled with a decline in the popularity of theme parks. 

In the early 2000s, the company underwent a major restructuring, spearheaded by CEO Michael Eisner. This period saw the acquisition of several new companies, such as Pixar Animation Studios and ABC.

In 2005, Eisner stepped down as CEO and was succeeded by Bob Iger. Under Iger’s leadership, The Walt Disney Company has continued to expand and acquire new companies, such as Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm.

Since then, this company has produced a ton of groundbreaking and critically acclaimed films. The company has an estimated $95.79 billion in assets owned. Not only that, but it has morphed into a holding company for various media and entertainment properties. These include theme parks, and other studios such as Marvel, Pixar, ESPN, Hulu, and ABC. 

Disney’s IPO

The Walt Disney Company went public on November 18, 1957. This marked a significant period in the company’s history as it left its private status to become a publicly traded company. Before the IPO, Walt and his brother Roy owned 100% of the company’s stock. 

But the IPO allowed the brothers to raise the equity they needed to continue growth and expansion. The IPO saw a total of 7.5 million shares offered to the public at a price of $13.88 per share. 

Much to their liking, the IPO was a huge success, with demand for the stock outpacing the number of shares available. On the first day of trading, the stock price jumped to $40 per share, giving the company a market value of nearly $400 million. This was a significant increase from the company’s pre-IPO valuation of around $100 million.

The capital raised from the IPO was primarily used to fund the construction and expansion of Disneyland, which had opened in 1955 and was already proving to be a massive success. The extra capital also allowed the company to expand its operations into television and other ventures.

Since its IPO, The Walt Disney Company has continued to grow and expand, acquiring new companies and entering new markets. 

Disney’s Largest Shareholders

The Vanguard Group, Inc.

The Vanguard Group is one of the world’s largest investment management companies, and it has its fingers in many different pies. According to the official Vanguard group website, they have over 440 holdings in some of the top companies in the world, like AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo & Co., Pepsi, HP, and of course, Walt Disney.

Vanguard’s stake in Disney is a testament to the company’s long-term investment strategy and its belief in the potential for growth in the entertainment industry. CNN Business News puts them at the top of the shareholder list with a 7.49% stake which equates to 136,614,265 shares owned, which have a total value of $11,869,047,343.

For Disney, having Vanguard as a shareholder can bring stability to its stock price and provide reassurance to other investors. When a company like Vanguard is invested in a company like Disney, it sends a message to the market that they believe in the company’s future and are willing to bet on it for the long term.

BlackRock Fund Advisors

BlackRock Fund Advisors is a subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., one of the largest investment management firms in the world. They provide investment advisory services to various companies, institutions, and individuals, including mutual funds, and pension plans. They also  manage a wide range of assets across multiple asset classes.

Reports indicate that the BlackRock Fund has a 4.09% stake in Walt Disney, which equates to 74,577,472 shares valued at $6,479,290,767. This stake represents a significant percentage of the common stock of the Walt Disney Company, making it one of the largest institutional shareholders of the company. 

SSgA Funds Management, Inc.

State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) Funds Management Inc. is a subsidiary of State Street Corporation and a leading player in the global asset management industry. Just like other institutional organizations listed above, SSgA also offers a broad range of investment opportunities to institutions, financial advisors, and individual investors.

They’ve built a reputation for expertise in the index investing niche. Not only that, but SSgA are also top players in the EFTs niche. 

According to CNN Business Reports, SSgA has a substantial stake in Walt Disney, with a 3.84% stake in the company. This represents 69,950,715 shares owned, which equates to  approximately $6,077,318,119.

Christine M. McCarthy 

With years of experience in corporate finance, capital markets, and treasury, Christine McCarthy is a seasoned professional who has played a crucial role in the growth and success of Walt Disney. In fact, her expertise and acumen in these areas have made her an invaluable asset to the company.

McCarthy’s professional career began in the early 1980s, when she started working at the First National Bank of Chicago. After several years of hard work and dedication, she moved on to work for various other financial institutions, such as The Goldman Sachs Group and J.P. Morgan & Co.

In 1995, McCarthy joined the Walt Disney Company as its Vice President and Treasurer. Over the years, she took on more responsibilities and became an instrumental part of the company’s financial operations. She was eventually promoted to the position of Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. 

As of January 2023, McCarthy is the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at the Walt Disney Company. But relative to this article, she’s one of the major individual shareholders, with reports estimating her shares owned to be approximately 165,707

Brent Woodford

Brent Woodford is the Executive Vice President, responsible for controllership, financial planning, and tax at the Walt Disney Company. He oversees the company’s financial activities, which include the tax function. Woodford’s role also includes financial reporting, developing operating cash flow, and expense planning. 

Before he joined the Disney company, he was Vice President of Yum Brands, a Pepsi spin-off. He served for about ten years dating back to 2003. He also spent time as a securities analyst and a financial consultant with A.G. Edwards & Sons and Coopers & Lybrand respectively. 

Woodford’s association with Disney dates back several years, during which time he substantially contributed to the company’s growth and success. He has demonstrated a keen eye for financial opportunities, and his investments in Disney have paid off handsomely.

As a stakeholder, Woodford holds a vested interest in the company’s future and has a say in its operations. He is part of a group of influential individuals who have a significant impact on the direction and success of Disney.

Brent Woodford is a notable stakeholder in the Walt Disney Company. He holds a considerable portion of the company’s shares as an individual investor, with reports suggesting he owns about 28,000 shares in the Walt Disney Company

Susan E. Arnold

Susan Arnold is the Chairman of the Board at the Walt Disney Company. Before her association with Disney, she was president of the Global Business Units of Procter and Gamble for two years, from 2007 to 2009. However, she’s also had experience in other companies, including P&G Beauty and Health, McDonald’s, Global Personal Beauty Care, and Global Feminine Care  

Arnold invested her stake in Disney through a combination of stock options, investments, and other financial incentives. It is uncertain when she first became a significant stakeholder in the company. Still, her status as a shareholder is well-established, with reports suggesting she has about 43,000 shares in this company. 

Impact of the Shareholder’s Ownership on Disney’s Success

Shareholder ownership has been a driving force behind Walt Disney’s impressive growth and success as a leading e-commerce company. The dynamic between a company and its shareholders is a crucial one, as the value of the investments made by shareholders is directly linked to the performance of the company.

Here are some of the ways shareholder ownership has impacted Disney’s success. 

Resource Allocation for Growth and Expansion

When shareholders invest in a company, they are basically giving the company the resources it needs to expand and grow. Fortunately, Disney has had a long history of effective management, which has effectively overseen these resources’ allocation. 

This has allowed them to deliver the best return on investment for the company’s shareholders. For instance, shareholder ownership has allowed the company to invest in new attractions such as new theme parks. 

Financial Flexibility 

Financial flexibility is another impact of shareholder ownership at Disney. When a company has financial flexibility, it can swiftly respond to new opportunities and pursue new ventures. This is especially important in the rapidly growing media and entertainment landscape, where companies must be flexible financially to stay ahead of the competition.


When shareholders invest in a company such as Walt Disney, they expect a decent level of return on their investment. In doing so, they put pressure on the management while creating a sense of urgency to drive results. 

This is what brings about accountability. Accountability also fosters a culture of transparency and honesty. This is paramount for building trust with the company’s stakeholders. When the management team is held accountable for its actions and results, it is more likely to be transparent about its operations, financials, and plans for the future. 


Walt Disney is a leader and trailblazer in the entertainment industry. Not only that, but Disney has its hand in several media and recreation ventures which have seen its stock value increase tremendously. It is one of the most recognizable names in the entertainment industry, with Marvel movies and ESPN sports leading the way. 

Although it was a private company initially owned by two brothers, it has since expanded thanks to its IPO back in 1955. Today, the Walt Disney Company is owned by a multitude of individual and institutional investors who’ve brought a ton of resources, and accountability to this brand. With its impressive track record of growth and expansion, it’s fair to assume that the Walt Disney Company will only go from stride to stride. 



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