Comcast Trying To Acquire Disney’s 40 Percent Share Of E!: Report

Comcast owns the controlling interest in E! Entertainment Television (E! and Style) but now, according to B&C’s John Higgins, the cable giant wants the whole thing. To accomplish that, Comcast will have to convince Bob Iger that Disney’s better off with money than the 40 percent of E it currently owns. Comcast is in the process of building up its cable networks and full ownership of E with its 80-plus million subs would be a boost. Comcast, which also is focused on broadband, would get full ownership of E’s online and mobile operations as well.
The partnership dates back nearly a decade. According to B&C, Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen estimates E’s current market value at about $2.5 billion, which would put the price of Disney’s shares at about $1 billion. (Too bad Comcast doesn’t own rights to a Walt Disney creation like Oswald the Rabbit.) But few cable deals are standalone these days so, as Higgins writes, a host of other issues are in play including carriage of cable nets, VOD and retransmission rights.

WSJ (sub. req.): Peter Grant reports he has confirmed the talks are underway and have been for more than six months. He also notes that the partnership alows Disney to trigger a sale based on “fair market value” and to buy out Comcast should the cable company decline to acquire its stake at that price. (Points to the Journal for acknowledging B&C as the original source, unlike sibling MarketWatch, which credited the Journal in the lede and then admitted it was first in “a trade publication, Broadcasting & Cable.”)

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