Below is the letter sent by Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's president and chief executive officer, to Michael Eisner, Disney's chief executive officer:
February 11, 2004
Mr. Michael D. Eisner
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, California 91521
I am writing following our conversation earlier this week in which I proposed that we enter into discussions to merge Disney and Comcast to create a premier entertainment and communications company. It is unfortunate that you are not willing to do so. Given this, the only way for us to proceed is to make a public proposal directly to you and your Board.
We have a wonderful opportunity to create a company that combines distribution and content in a way that is far stronger and more valuable than either Disney or Comcast can be standing alone. To this end, we are proposing a tax-free stock for stock merger in which Comcast would issue 0.78 of a share of its Class A voting common stock for each share of Disney. This represents a premium of over $5 billion for your shareholders, based on yesterday's closing prices. Under our proposal, your shareholders would own approximately 42% of the combined company.
The combined company would be uniquely positioned to take advantage of an extraordinary collection of assets. Together, we would unite the country's premier cable provider with Disney's leading filmed entertainment, media networks and theme park properties. In addition to serving over 21 million cable subscribers, Comcast is also the country's largest high speed internet service provider with over 5 million subscribers. As you have expressed on several occasions, one of Disney's top priorities involves the aggressive pursuit of technological innovation that enhances how Disney's content is created and delivered. We believe this combination helps accelerate the realization of that goal-whether through existing distribution channels and technologies such as video-on-demand and broadband video streaming or through emerging technologies still in development-to the benefit of all our shareholders, customers and employees.
We believe that improvements in operating performance, business creation opportunities and other combination benefits will generate enormous value for the shareholders of both companies. Together, as an integrated distribution and content company, we will be best positioned to meet our respective competitive challenges. We have a stable and respected management team with a great track record for creating shareholder value. In fact, our shares have consistently outperformed leading stock indices by significant margins, including the S&P 500 by a margin of more than 2 to 1 since Comcast went public in 1972.
The Comcast management team greatly appreciates and is highly respectful of the Disney heritage. We know that there are many talented executives at Disney who we envision would also play a key role in managing the combined company. We also would welcome directors from your Board joining our Board.
We have analyzed the issues associated with regulatory approval and are confident that all necessary approvals can be obtained in a timely fashion. Given the landscape that has evolved in our industry over the past few years, the creation of integrated content and distribution companies is essential to increasing the level of competition. The FCC's existing program access and program carriage rules ensure that the combined company will continue to make all of its satellite-delivered national and regional cable networks available on a non-exclusive, non-discriminatory basis and that there will be no discrimination against unaffiliated programming services, all consistent with the undertakings made by News Corp. in its recent acquisition of DirecTV.
We hope that the Disney Board will pursue the opportunity that this proposed combination presents to your shareholders.
Very truly yours,
Brian L. Roberts
President and Chief Executive Officer