Playing One Side Against

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2004-02-13 Print this article Print

the Other"> Comcast has a golden opportunity to play one side against the other. Dissident shareholders may use the offer as a way to oust Eisner and turn around the companys fortunes. Eisner may see it as a way to fend off the dissidents demands and remain head of the merged companies.

But Comcasts pitch for Disney will likely prove to be an even harder sell than its effort to buy AT&T Broadband. AT&T was a highly motivated seller. Seeking a way to reap shareholder value, AT&T was already casting about for a suitable buyer for its broadband property. In that situation Comcasts job was the show that it was willing and capable of meeting AT&Ts steep price. AT&T Broadband fit into Comcasts core business.

Despite Comcasts claims of natural synergies, it may have a hard time demonstrating that it can lead Disney in profitable new directions. Its significant that Comcast assigned Steve Burke, president of Comcasts cable division, who worked for 12 years as an executive in three Disney divisions, as front man for its merger bid. His presence is an effort to lend credibility to Comcasts claim that it has the management expertise to run a media and entertainment company.

However, over the past 20 years, Eisner has ensured that Disney maintained its brand identity and management leadership in any of its major television and cable acquisitions. Disneys management will be extremely reluctant to make a deal that eclipses that leadership and independence.

Disney must avoid being cajoled into creating another short-lived corporate Frankenstein like those misbegotten creatures of the last stock market boom. Enterprise Applications Center Editor John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on the latest corporate application software. Be sure to add our Enterprise Applications feed to your RSS newsreader:

John Pallatto John Pallatto is's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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