By Margarita Snegireva. One of the largest Comcast Corp. institutional shareholders rebels against its CEO.
Chieftain Capital Management Inc., which manages 60.5 million Comcast shares, or about 2% of stock outstanding, this week wrote to Comcast calling for the ouster of Chief Executive Brian Roberts, describing his management as a "Comcastrophe" for shareholders after a decade of "zero return."
Chieftain also wants Comcast to return cash to shareholders, including a "meaningful" dividend; revise its executive compensation and dismantle its dual-class voting structure, which allows Mr. Roberts's family to control the Philadelphia company despite owning only a small percentage of the stock. The family owns supervoting shares that give it a majority of the votes.
Brian L. Roberts is Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, an American company providing cable, entertainment and communications products and services. He is the son of Comcast co-founder Ralph J. Roberts.
Comcast has grown into a Fortune 100 company with 21.7 million customers and 80,000 employees. Comcast's content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, The Golf Channel, OLN, G4, AZN Television, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One and four regional Comcast SportsNets. The Company also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectator, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia.
Roberts is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and previously Treasurer. Roberts is the Chairman of CableLabs as well.
Roberts has won business and industry honors during his tenure. Institutional Investor magazine named him its top vote-getter three years straight (2004-2006) in the Cable & Satellite category of their America's Best CEOs annual survey; and also named Comcast as one of America's Most Shareholder-Friendly Companies in 2006. He was the recipient of the 2004 Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and was the 2002 Walter Kaitz Foundation Honoree of the Year for his commitment to diversity in the cable industry. The Police Athletic League of Philadelphia honored Roberts with its 2002 award for his commitment to youth programs and community partnerships.
Roberts is a board member of The Bank of New York.