Microsoft wants a piece of Disney

Walt Disney has so far resisted a knee-jerk reaction to the hostile bid from America's biggest cable company Comcast. The all-share offer was originally valued at $66bn including debt but is shrinking in value fast as Disney stock is pushed higher and Comcast falls. The Disney board has promised to fully and fairly evaluate the bid.

But Michael Eisner, the combative chief executive of Disney, has come through plenty of tough situations in the past decade bloodied but still unbowed. It seems unlikely he will give up the company without a fight.

At an investors' conference in Orlando last week Eisner appeared largely unruffled. Asked by an analyst if Disney was considering any acquisitions, he jokingly replied: "We're buying Comcast," informs &to=' target=_blank>Guardian

Seattle - One of the biggest winners in Comcast's $47.6 billion (R317.4 billion) surprise bid to buy Walt Disney might be Microsoft, the silent partner looming in the wings, analysts said on Friday. Since Microsoft owns 7.4 percent of Comcast, it would end up controlling about 4 percent of the world's biggest media company if the bid succeeded.

That stake could give Microsoft leverage during the deal and afterward, as it sought to push its software beyond the maturing market for personal computers (PCs) and into the still-developing boom in digital entertainment, analysts said. Microsoft has long sought to forge links with telecommunications and entertainment to sell its software, leading some observers to question whether the world's biggest software maker could emerge as a rival bidder for Disney.

Analysts said that with nearly $53 billion in cash, Microsoft could easily pay for a large media franchise, such as Disney, with cash or stock, according to &to=' target=_blank>BusinessReport

Is Comcast's bold bid for Disney in fact a conservative move?

"Audacious" seemed to be the favorite word to describe the takeover offer last week. But if Comcast, the largest U.S. cable provider, succeeds in acquiring Walt Disney, it could be seen as a way to control costs and ensure adequate inventory for the most mature and slowest-growing part of its cable business: video programming.

The Yankee Group, a technology research firm in Boston, estimates that by the end of 2006, 31.9 million United States homes will have video-on-demand over cable, up from 12.5 million at the end of last year. The firm predicts that cable-based Internet access, used by 14.6 million households at the end of last year, will be in about 26.5 million homes within three years. And by the end of 2007, more than 10 million homes will receive telephone service via cable, up from less than 3 million at the end of last year.

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