Comcast backs away from Disney

May 3, 2004

Comcast has withdrawn its unsolicited $54.1 billion bid to acquire the Walt Disney Company.

In February, Disney’s board rejected the Comcast bid as inadequate. However, since Comcast made that initial offer its own stock price has declined by more than 10 percent — making the proposed stock-based transaction even less attractive.

A merger with Disney would have combined its entertainment assets, including film studios, theme parks, the ESPN sports network and ABC television, with Comcast’s cable systems, which reaches 21.5 million homes.

Roberts declined to answer several questions regarding the company’s future acquisition strategy. But he made it plain that he still saw Disney as a prize worth having. “We continue to believe that combining our company with Disney would be in the best interests of shareholders,” he said.

Asked about Adelphia Communications as a potential takeover target, Roberts said Comcast would consider the bankrupt cable operator, which has formally announced a possible sale of the company. “I suspect we’ll look,” he said, adding that a number of Adelphia’s assets would fit into Comcast’s footprint.

Time Warner and Cox Communications have been rumored as likely buyers of Adelphia’s assets. It is possible such a purchase could occur and Adelphia could be split apart with portions going to Comcast.

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