Disney's Bob Chapek Resists Calls For ESPN Spin-Off, Plans To Restore Network To Growth

Zinger Key Points
  • Disney thinks it's viable to retain the ESPN cable network, CEO Bob Chapek reportedly told FT.
  • He has reportedly been having collaborative, collegial conversations with hedge fund manager Dan Loeb.

Walt Disney Company DIS wants to retain the ESPN sports television network despite activist calls to spin off or sell the unit, CEO Bob Chapek reportedly said in an interview with the Financial Times on the sidelines of the annual D23 conference held in California.

Disney has been getting a deluge of offers from companies wanting to buy ESPN ever since rumors regarding a potential sale of the cable network began floating around, Chapek said.

“If everyone wants to come in and buy it... I think that says something about its potential,” he noted. Its potential lies within Disney, Chapek added.

The Disney CEO noted that the company has a plan for restoring ESPN to its growth trajectory.

See also: Disney Seeks To Pull Off An Amazon With 'Prime-Like' Bundle Service: WSJ

Hedge fund Third Point disclosed a $1 billion stake in Disney in August, and its CEO Dan Loeb has been clamoring for a spin-off of ESPN to reduce the Mouse Kingdom’s debt as part of a plan to restructure the company.

Chapek said he has been having regular “very collaborative, non-antagonistic and collegial” conversations with Loeb, the report said. On the hedge fund manager’s demand for changing the composition of the board, Chapek reportedly said the membership has a broad range of skill sets and its tenure is four years.

Regarding Loeb’s call for buying out Comcast Corporation’s CMCSA 33% stake in Hulu before January 2024, when Disney has an option to buy out the streaming service, Chapek signaled that though Disney "would love to do that," Comcast has been reluctant.

Disney closed Friday’s session 2.54% higher at $115.18, according to Benzinga Pro data.

Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Television on flickr

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Posted In: EntertainmentNewsMediaBob ChapekDan Loeb
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