Comcast ( CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts signaled again Monday that he's not rushing to raise his bid for Disney ( DIS).
Noting the sharp divergence in the companies' shares since Comcast bid last month for Disney, Roberts cited "anticipation in the marketplace that I don't think is viable or realistic that we can just keep going and bid against ourselves." Either that, said Roberts, or the $8 billion decline in Comcast's market capitalization and the $5 billion increase in Disney's indicate that the market believes that a net $3 billion in value would be destroyed by putting the companies together. But Roberts -- head of the nation's largest operator of cable systems -- clearly doesn't believe that's the case. As he has previously, he indicated Monday that merging Comcast's distribution system with Disney's entertaiment properties would speed the way for a new generation of television, or what he called "TV on your terms." Roberts' comments, which came at a Bear Stearns media and entertainment conference in Palm Beach, Fla., represent his first extensive comments about the proposed deal following last week's blockbuster shareholder meeting at Disney. Longtime Disney chief Michael Eisner stepped down as chairman in the wake of a 43% no-confidence vote from Disney investors. Eisner, backed by his board, had rejected Comcast's overtures in February as soon as he heard them from Roberts' mouth. Comcast had made its offer believing that Disney's shareholders and board were "were going to be in a position to consider its strategic future and its strategic alternatives," Roberts said. "Our view was, you don't get to pick the time of your opportunities," Roberts said. "They pick you." Just as incumbent broadcast networks could have, but didn't, launch cable TV mainstays such as CNN and HBO, suggested Roberts, Disney shareholders will miss out on wealth creation without Comcast's help. "We can help take the content and the libraries and the portfolio" of Disney "and accelerate its growth rate," he said.