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Cable to Capture Mouse?

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Comcast – largest cable television operator in the United States – makes a $54.1 billion unsolicited takeover bid for the Walt Disney Company. I hope this doesn’t interfere with our trip to Disneyworld in May. Lily has been obsessing over the rides and attractions on their website – playing the Tiki Room song ad infinitum, for one thing – and I don’t believe we will survive any interruptions to her plans.

But anyway:

    If successful, Comcast’s audacious bid would once again reshape the entertainment landscape, creating a new media behemoth that would combine the power of Comcast’s distribution channels to some 21 million subscribers in the nation with Disney’s vast collection of film and television properties. Those include its ABC television network, ESPN and other cable networks, and the Disney and Miramax movie studios. The company also owns Walt Disney theme parks around the world.

    Comcast’s surprise offer, a pressure tactic meant to start negotiations, comes amid turmoil within Disney’s board and unrest among some investors who have called for the resignation of the company’s longtime chief executive, Michael D. Eisner. Roy Disney, a former Disney director and a nephew of Walt Disney, the company’s co-founder, has been leading a lobbying effort to have Mr. Eisner ousted, accusing him of mismanaging the company.

    ….The bid is likely to ignite a bitter a takeover fight as Mr. Eisner and Disney seek to keep the company independent. The unsolicited offer also has the potential to make Disney takeover bait for other media giants that may now be inspired to make their own bids.

    ….The deal, which would creating a new rival to Time Warner Inc. and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, would also face intense regulatory scrutiny because of the combined company’s ability to potentially squeeze customers. But because both companies have little overlap, the deal would likely be approved.

    ….Mr. Roberts is gambling that his company’s offer will prompt Disney’s board to engage in negotiations, overwhelmed by enraged shareholders and a possible solution to the persistent question of who would succeed Mr. Eisner.

    Indeed, Mr. Eisner may be in a vulnerable position. After appearing to have temporarily beat back the board revolt led by Roy Disney, Mr. Eisner stumbled again earlier this month when Pixar, the digital production company led by Apple Computer’s chief executive, Stephen P. Jobs, ended the companies’ partnership after 13 years and hits like “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story.” Mr. Jobs abandoned trying to reach a new deal with Disney, in part, because he could not get along Mr. Eisner. [NY Times]

Interesting.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    The Pixar deal alone should be enough to have Eisner ousted. He dramatically overstated Disney’s value in that deal. Sure, Jobs and Pixar were asking a lot, but see how quickly they get their terms met on the open market. Dreamworks comes to mind. It is especially unforgiveable given Disney’s creative woes in creating characters that yield the box office and merchandise numbers that were achieved with Aladdin and The Lion King.

    Given these facts and a depressed stock price over the last 5 years or so, Comcast might be making a bold move, but I think it is a good one. Disney is priced attractively and in good hands can return to a more prominent position.