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Comcast proposed to buy Disney

Discussion in 'Archive' started by Jessica L, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. Jessica L

    Jessica L Member

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    All I can say is that at least Eisner had enough brains to turn this offer down initially...
    Only time will tell how much of a mess this will cause. I really wish I could go to the stockholder meeting now!


    Comcast Proposes to Buy Walt Disney
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor.../comcast_disney
     
  2. SFMike

    SFMike Member

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    I have to disagree with you about Eisner having brains. None of this upheaval would be happening if that idiot had not been running the company into the ground for the past few years. I mean really, how hard can it be not to alienate your past partners such as Pixar and Lucas. Not buy ABC or the ?family? channel. Invest in quality theme park attractions and let the creative people make the animated features the way they think are best. I'm sure every person on this board feels that they could run whats left of the animation and theme park divisions better than current management. Have you been to a Disney Store lately?

    I would hate to see a merger for the company but Eisner's days of greedy corporate micro-mismanagement are finally catching up with him and the entire company will have to suffer. It may not survive intact. It?s too bad Roy didn't jump ship a few years back. Well, everything changes and not always for the worst. Sooner or later we will be dealing with post-Eisner Disney one way or the other. He leaves us with his California Adventure style quality legacy screaming cheap. I hope he can continue his lifestyle without the millions in bonuses he gave himself every year. I guess he?ll just have to cut back a little. :'(
     
  3. DisneylandKid

    DisneylandKid Member

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    anyone want to go to Camcastland? ??? :p
     
  4. Jessica L

    Jessica L Member

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    No no Mike I completely agree with you! I was just *somewhat* glad Eisner didn't immediately see the $$ flash before his eyes and sign up with Comcast on the spot. I guess it's a temporary relief - but the future is so uncertain. Rumor has it that even if Disney doesn't sign with Comcast Eisner may still get the boot. I just want him gone - but I don't want Comcast in either.

    I don't know if any of you have Comcast cable - I do. Their customer service, to put it bluntly, sucks. They don't care if you're satisfied - just as long as you keep paying. We've had some bad experiences with them - and if we had a choice for our cable provider we would probably switch. I see a decline in Disney's customer appreciation - but believe me it's a million times better than how Comcast treats their customers.

    Scary days indeed...

    Jessica
     
  5. SFMike

    SFMike Member

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    I have to agree with you on Comcast. Their customer dis-service is the reason I have DirecTV. And I must say I've been very happy with their customer service.

    We don't need a big corporation taking over a big corporation. We need a visionary person who knows the entertainment industry and is willing to take artist chances to try and hit that profit goldmine. Someone who sees the relationship between quality and financial success. Right now I believe John Lassiter probably fits into the picture best; however I don't have the slightest idea how that would come about.

    Completely OT:
    Have you been to the Shrek 2 site? When are these guys going to get tired of the fart humor? It almost makes me not want to see the film. I mean hey guys be a little creative.....Please. :p
     
  6. xfkirsten

    xfkirsten Member

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    I gotta agree. I hate Eisner being in charge, but I'd hate to sese Comcast in charge, too. Back home in WA, we have Comcast cable TV and internet... their service is prone to outages all the time. And calling customer service is like talking to a brick wall. I'd hate to see what they'd do to a company like Disney that's built their reputation on service.

    -Kirsteen
     
  7. Barry

    Barry New Member

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    But wait, theres more.....


    Investors Like Comcast-Disney, Predict Eisner Exit

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004



    NEW YORK ? The bid for Walt Disney Co. (DIS) lines up as a great combination of content and distribution if Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA), (CCZ) Brian Roberts can get the deal done, investors say, and if he can force Disney's Michael Eisner (search) out the door.

    Money managers called Comcast's $54 billion all-stock unsolicited bid for Disney too low, but they said the offer was just a starting point to get negotiations rolling.

    They said the deal looms as a formidable media juggernaut that would likely lead to Eisner's exit at Disney and put that company's management back on track.

    "As a Comcast holder it looks great. As a Disney shareholder it looks low. As an owner of both I would love it if they got together because I think it's a great combination," said Alec Cutler, managing director at Brandywine Asset Management, which manages about $13 billion in assets.

    "You would have the largest delivery company combining with one of the largest, if not the largest content provider, giving them incredible bargaining power with other content providers and with other delivery companies," he said.

    Brandywine, based in Wilmington, Del., has more than 1 million Disney shares and more than 400,000 Comcast shares.

    Knox Fuqua, a fund manager at the $20 million AAM Equity Fund in Charleston, West Virginia, said the Comcast bid makes it clear that Disney must make some changes to enhance its value and give the company must-needed direction.

    "As a shareholder, I have been pretty pleased with my Disney holding," Fuqua said. "But as a shareholder I am concerned about what the future is for Disney, and whether it is an internal solution or another company steps in."

    "It is time for (Eisner) to admit that there needs to be a change," he said. "It doesn't mean he has to disappear today, but he needs to start putting together a plan of who is going to lead this company in the future so the company continues to do as well as it has in the past."

    Steven Cohen, chief investment officer of New York-based hedge fund Kellner DiLeo Cohen & Co., which manages about $500 million of assets, including Disney shares, said the bid is low but to be expected for an unsolicited offer.

    "Strategically it makes enormous sense on several levels because Comcast obviously is distribution and Disney is content," he said.

    "Disney has a wounded management that has lost lots of credibility already," Cohen added. "And there is a lot of frustration with Michael Eisner among the institutions."

    Comcast proposed exchanging 0.78 of its class A shares for each Disney share, which values Disney's stock at $26.47 a share. Disney shares soared as much as 16 percent to their highest price since July 2001.

    Investors said the offer by Roberts, Comcast's chief executive, was brilliant and put Disney in play, though who else might make a bid was unclear.

    "This is the beginning of a process in which you've identified Disney as an undervalued target," said Mario Gabelli, CEO of Gabelli Asset Management Inc. and a specialist in media stocks. "Comcast clearly has done a good job."

    Cutler said Comcast has a history of taking underperforming assets, raising their margins and running them well. He also said Stephen Burke, a former Disney executive, is a key figure at Comcast who was critical in its $40 billion takeover of AT&T Corp.'s cable assets in 2002.

    "He was put in charge of turning the AT&T properties around and did a wonderful job. He has turned other acquisitions around as well. With his background it is likely he would be successful at Disney," Cutler said.

    Gerry Bollman, co-portfolio manager of Great Companies LLC, an asset manager in Clearwater, Florida, said General Electric Co. (GE), owner of the NBC network, could bid for Disney, though he doubted it would be willing to enter a bidding war.

    He said if Roberts can get the deal done, it could add value to Comcast shareholders.

    "The opportunity here is to rationalize the Disney business and create value by the disposing of certain parts of it," Bollman
     
  8. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    The horror, the horror.......

    Wow......if Walt could see all of this slimey, corporate plotting.....not much talk of artistic integrity amongst the dirty dealing.

    All I can think of is a company once run by an artistic visionary being turned over to the cable guy......we may actually have descended into Conrad's Heart of Darkness--"The horror, the horror......."

    And yet--could any possible good come out of this maddness????

    Mike
     
  9. David S.

    David S. Member

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    >>>>And yet--could any possible good come out of this maddness?>>>>

    I would hope that if the Comcast deal goes through and they are looking to "dump" the parks, the film library, or feature animation, that a deal could be made to sell them to a group (possibly led by Roy and Stanley?) who actually understands these things and will treat them with the respect they deserve and wont just see them as "small" niche entitities that are part of a larger conglomerate. (I feel like that has already happened to an extent, but instead of these things being taken over by an outside company, Disney just morphed into that company themselves).

    At any rate, I would actually love it if somehow the ABC, ABC Family, and pro sports entities were somehow splintered off and that's what Comcast wanted, leaving a leaner "Disney" company that could concentrate on it's CORE - ie, the parks, feature animation, Imagineering, and the film and TV library. That way, the parks would no longer have to be bled dry to support ABC and other failing Eisner ventures.

    Any scenario that would have the parks, the classic film library, Imagineering, the studio (particularly Feature Animation or what's left of it), and Disney Records broken up and not functioning together under the name DISNEY would be heartbreaking to me, since I consider these things to be the core of Walt and Roy's great legacy.

    Even if the "Classic" Disney elements survive all this intact, there is still the nagging problems of the nature of modern capitali$m - that is "public" companies like Disney being majority-owned by "souless" institutional investors who have no sentimental ties to the company and care little for "Art" or "Quality" or "Customer Satisfaction" but merely want the entity known as "Disney" to yield the highest profit margin possible. And these types seem to think in limited quarter-to-quarter terms instead of long-term. If a higher return could be achieved by the "brand" known as "Disney" getting out of the entertainment buisness altogether and selling insurance, shoes, or toothpaste, I doubt these types would mind as long as they were making more money.

    That's why I really wish Disney were owned at least 51% by the Disney family and other like-minded individuals who "get it".

    That way, if the minority held by "Wall Street" types wanted costs to be cut at the parks or at Feature Animation to produce a larger quarterly return, the majority could basically tell them to, well, I won't print it in a family forum! ;)

    Also, a Disney held in majority by the family and people who "get it" would not be vulnerable to hostile takeover attempts, as in 1984 and right now.

    All we can do is hope for the best - that the Disney legacy from the past that we all know and love will not be further lost or cheapened, and that Imagineering and Feature Animation will somehow survive all this and rise from the ashes of all this corporate foolishness to continue creating new Magic into the future.

    David

    PS. Here's some interesting articles:


    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor..._disney_fans_dc

    http://www.savedisney.com/news/essays/rd020904.1.asp

    "As someone with the last name of "Disney," it is my firm belief that we are not a commodity. As long as we continue to believe in the power of creative ideas-then our best years still lie ahead. "

    - Roy E. Disney
     
  10. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    Thanks for your time, David--nice work! Being an optimist at heart, I'm desparately hoping that something good could come out of a buy-out--but that's hard to imagine when nasty corporate forces are the players, with basically one concern in mind.....

    And not having a "dirty dealing" business mind, it's difficult for me to fathom what's really going on in those smoke-filled, dimly lit rooms, filled with snarling faces ringing their hands over the next move(at least that's how they show it in the movies)......makes me wonder if Steve Jobs and company isn't in there, lurking in the shadows somewhere to see what he can grab, if there is a splintering of the company, as you suggested. With all that's been happening over the past several weeks, who knows what's really been happening behind the scenes.....

    We can only hope that the Walt Disney Company is a phoenix, as you suggested at the end of your piece, and that there is a shimmer of light in the dark.....

    Mike
     
  11. X-S Tech

    X-S Tech Active Member

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    Well I don't have the type of mind that can fully grasp all of the complexities of this sort of deal either. I can only hope that if Comcast is successful, they recognize the value of Disney as a whole, and not as pieces of a pie to be divided. Would you really want to own the theme parks without the film library? With all the specific complaints about Eisner that Comcast has brought up I find it hard to believe that this is something he himself has put together, as Jim Hill has suggested. And he turned it down. Once it becomes a hostile takeover how can he take credit.

    I am very confused. I used to be able to rest secure in the fact that everything happens for the best. I know nothing is forever and change can be a good thing, but lately I've come to realize that the rest of the world doesn't share my philosophy. People don't do things for the greater good. I hope Walt's legacy survives in the company, but if it doesn't I still have my memories, music and a ton of memorabilia. Let's be honest, I haven't been a big fan of very much that Disney's done lately. So we may not be missing much.
     
  12. Tink

    Tink Member

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    This whole thing makes me very nervous. I understand that Comcast has former Disney CM's who claim to "get it." I've read comments from Roy that lead me to believe that he's not totally opposed to the idea, as long as Eisner is gone.

    But here's the other interesting thing that is in the news on the PIXAR/Steve Jobs side of things...

    According to some of the Apple Computer rumor sources, Jobs might be working with other groups to make their own offer for Disney. Now say what you want about Apple Computers, but they know how to please their customers. Jobs is, without a doubt, an amazing businessman who "get it" when it comes to pleasing both investors and customers. If he was able to get a group (even if it did include Comcast) to takeover the company, and he and John Lasseter (spelling error?) were left either completely in charge, or in a very high ranking position, that would be a Disney Company I could get behind. But Comcast, without the Roy/Jobs influence, by itself scares the piss out of me...

    Just my 2 cents.

    Tink
     
  13. David S.

    David S. Member

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    Yes, it looks like Steve Jobs may be able to play the role of "White Knight" and save Disney from being taken over from Comcast!

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/...-999660,00.html

    http://www.nypost.com/business/17782.htm

    I've heard/read so many theories over the last 24 hours from so called financial experts that its getting difficult to keep up with it all!

    Regarding Comcast: Some say that their number 2 man, Burke, would be a good fit for running the Disney side because of his prior experience with the Mouse, and that he just may be able to turn the company around.

    Other analysts though are pointing out how Comcast being a cable company seems more interested in acquiring "media content" - ABC, ESPN, the film library - and there is speculation they may sell off the parks.

    If the sale was to, say, the Oriental Land Company, or to a group of veteran Disney investors like Roy and others who "get it", this might be good for the parks, although I'd still hate to see the CORE of the company broken up.

    However, I don't even want to think about the possibility of the parks being sold to, say, a Cedar Fair or a Six Flags! As much as I enjoy coasters at parks that are INTENDED to be thrill parks, I don't want to see, say, the MK or DL crammed with tall coasters flying overhead while on the Jungle Cruise or while walking down Main Street or worse, REPLACING the classic Disney scenic and dark ride attractions.

    Another scenario I heard some talking head on CNBC speculate on would be keeping the parks but selling off the hotels. I dislike this idea, as it could break up the unity of the resorts and of the WDW experience.

    One thing that makes me VERY nervous about Comcast is an article I read said the Comcast side would be the majority owner and thus they could in effect call the shots on what happens in the Disney side, and thus, Walt and Roy's core legacy. And it's not just the theme parks, Imagineering, Feature Animation, and the film and TV library I'm concerned with preserving. There are other important parts of the legacy too - like Disney Records and the Walt Disney Archives, for instance.

    Regarding Pixar/Jobs - I don't know much about the man, but based on his reputation of making money by OFFERING quality instead of making money by CUTTING quality, this seems like the best option so far from a fan's point of view.

    And there have been rumors of Pixar starting their own 2D "traditional" branch - if merged with Disney I feel confident this would happen and would attract the best traditional animators back to Disney for the NEW renaissance - just as Pixar has led the pack in 3D CGI feature animation. So the tradition of traditional animated features starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and continuing all the way through this year's Home On The Range (#44 I believe?) would seem to have a good chance of continuing.

    There are so many ways this could all play out...

    One interesting thing about the Comcast anouncement is the TIMING - stealing the thunder from Disney's big earnings conference that very same day, right after the "losing Pixar" fiasco, less than a month before the big annual meeting, and in the midst of Roy and Stanley's campaign to oust Eisner. In other words, when Eisner is at his weakest. "Expert" finance commentators almost overnight went from considering Eisner "embattled but entrenched" to now basically saying it's a foregone conclusion that his days are numbered.

    On a light note, one positive thing I think we can say for sure is that no matter WHO becomes the next person to run Disney, I seriously doubt that they'll be haunted for years to come, when making decisions, by the burning question "What would Michael Eisner do?"

    David

    "As someone with the last name of "Disney," it is my firm belief that we are not a commodity. As long as we continue to believe in the power of creative ideas-then our best years still lie ahead. "

    - Roy E. Disney
     
  14. David S.

    David S. Member

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  15. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    A fairy tale with a happy ending???

    Great stuff, David, and thank you for the link to the poll that brings in so many interesting opinions.

    Here's an excerpt from an article my wife came across yesterday:

    Los Angeles(Reuters)--Could this be the surprise
    Hollywood happy ending in which Nemo finds his
    way back to Disney after all?......."I have reason to
    believe that if Michael Eisner were gone, you could
    do a deal with Pixar on acceptable terms," Stanley
    Gold, a former board member and ally of Walt Disney
    nephew and fellow ex-board member Roy Disney,
    said on a conference call with investors. "I think
    (Comcast) or others could probably do that if Michael
    is gone."

    Interesting....."or others...."

    You know, maybe it's my boundless optimism, but I'm starting to feel a little better about this fascinating chess game. It's becoming more and more apparent that as you mentioned right off, David, that Steve Jobs and Pixar, probably maneuvered by Roy and Stanley, are definitely lurking in the cloudy shadows of that Comcast back room--and that, I believe, is a very reassuring thing. Yes, the White Knight indeed may arrive, kiss the Sleeping Beauty who awakens, and we all breathe a sigh of relief and cheer as they ride off into the sunset--I guess that optimism is kicking into overdrive a little too soon......

    Mike
     
  16. Tink

    Tink Member

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    I truly want to believe that this will turn out for the best... I really do... But I know too much about Comcast to be excited by their offer- even with a former Disney CM who appears to understand the Disney magic involved. But if Roy and Stanley and Steve Jobs are involved as well.... Herm....

    The old proverb, "may you live in interesting times," seems very appropriate today...

    Tink
     
  17. X-S Tech

    X-S Tech Active Member

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    I think if there's one thing that we can agree on right now it's that Disney doesn't need to be any bigger than it is.
     
  18. X-S Tech

    X-S Tech Active Member

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    It seems rediculous to me that someone would want to own simply one division of Disney. Yes the theme parks have been in a rut (for 2 of 50 years?), and the animated films haven't been doing very good. Would you really want to own Disneyland but not the rights to Sleeping Beauty? Or Mickey but not Disneyland? Doesn't make any sense to me. But if someone does buy Disney and feels the need to downsize I can understand that. There are several more recent acquisitions that I wouldn't mind losing:The Ducks, ABC, ESPN, etc...divisions that have weighed down the company for years. I love in Eisner's biography, he talks about Euro Disney and how as hard as it would be, if the park's performance didn't turn around he would be forced to close it. He didn't want one cancerous limb killing the others. Makes sense. But of course we've shoveled how many millions of dollars down the ABC toilet while we ignore the parks and the animated films? This isn't anything that hasn't been said before I guess, but boy was I waiting to say it.

    Unfortunately I can see one very possible casualty in any merger/takeover. Even if the new owner truly understands and appreciates the value of the legacy of the company, I fear that Imagineering may go the way of the dodo. Sadly it's services are too easily farmed out and it's employees too long unrecognized. While Animation at least recieves some publicity whenever a new film comes out, and therefore a few of the hundreds of animators are no longer faceless, Imagineering is far more obscure. And while I believe that the farming out of attractions results in a weaker product and ultimately less of a legacy for the company, I think the obvious financial repercussions are too far in the future. The parks are staying afloat now because of the past works of WDI, while meager budgets are replacing timeless favorites with off the shelf thrills.
     

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