Comcast Proposes Merger With Disney

ByABC News
February 11, 2004, 9:11 AM

Feb. 11 -- Comcast, the nation's largest cable television operator, has offered to buy the Walt Disney Company, in a surprise bid worth $66 billion the entertainment giant's board said it would "carefully evaluate."

Comcast President and CEO Brian Roberts said today the company was going public with the unsolicited offer after Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner declined to enter discussions.

The proposed merger includes stock valued at $54 billion and assumed debt of $11.9 billion.

Disney confirmed the offer. "The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors has received and will carefully evaluate the unsolicited proposal from Comcast Corp," the company said in a statement released today.

At a Disney investor conference in Orlando, Fla., Eisner acknowledged the offer, but went no further than the board of directors did.

"We did get an unsolicited offer today, which the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company will take under advisement, carefully consider and in due course have a response," Eisner said.

"The ball is in Disney's court," Comcast's Roberts said today. "I don't feel that there's anything to be bashful about. We think it's a very fair proposal. I hope the board will consider it."

Government Scrutiny Promised

If the two giant companies were to merge, it would combine the largest cable service provider with 21 million subscribers with Disney's theme parks, movies, ABC television and radio networks and the ESPN cable television network. Comcast is also a major player in high-speed Internet service, serving more than 5 million subscribers.

Comcast, which has grown rapidly in the past decade, including with a merger with AT&T Broadband in late 2002, calls the offer a wonderful opportunity to combine distribution which Comcast has plenty of and content, in which Disney is rich.

"This is a pretty compelling combination," Roberts said.