Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is considering Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) as a takeover target, according to The New York Post. The huge telecom company and wireless carrier has already snapped up AOL and Yahoo! as part of a plan to consolidate content assets, particularly those which contain video. The move would also allow Verizon to keep up with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which recently bought Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX).
The Post reports:
One rumor making the rounds last week was that Verizon may be eyeing a Disney purchase. While that sounds fantastical, a well-placed banker told On the Money not to count Verizon out.
On the Money is a New York Post section.
Among the challenges Verizon faces is that Disney may not want to be taken over. Its long-time CEO Robert Iger has spent years aggressively increasing the profitability of the company’s assets, which include film studios; cable operations, led by ESPN; and theme parks.
Verizon may not want large parts of Disney, particularly its theme park operations. It would have to sell these off as part of any M&A deal. Iger has not been able to slow the slide of ESPN which has lost millions of subscribers as people drop cable and fiber services and use their broadband connections to pick and choose which channels they want.
There are rumors that Disney wants to make acquisitions of its own. One of those rumors is that Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is among its targets. The content rental company has a large library of digital content. It also has a distribution network of tens of millions of subscribers which matches the largest cable companies in size.
Finally, there is the issue of price. Disney’s market cap is $106 billion. Presumably, Verizon would have to pay a large premium. Verizon’s market cap is $182 billion, which makes a stock buyout nearly impossible. The deal would need to be a merger.
The buyout rumor is just that. But, with AT&T’s deal for Time Warner, Verizon may believe it has to respond.