RBR-TVBR was right on the money the other day when we said that Sumner Redstone’s ego would prevent any sale of CBS while he is still living. And now The Walt Disney Company has emphatically denied that any talks are underway to sell ABC.
Redstone had said it before, but with the recent speculation in the New York Post (owned not coincidentally by rival Rupert Murdoch) he was asked during Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting for CBS Corporation about sale possibilities. “I will never, N-E-V-E-R, sell Viacom or CBS,” Redstone said, spelling it out for anyone who didn’t understand the word.
It was an alleged insider trading scheme by a now-fired employee that brought the public denial from Disney. One of the people arrested in the case had claimed to have insider information on talks by Disney CEO Bob Iger to sell ABC to a couple of private equity firms. “The Walt Disney Company has been fully cooperating with this investigation. The reference in the complaint to conversations regarding the ABC Network were and are false,” said a company statement.
RBR-TVBR observation: Even with the arrest of a former employee, Disney didn’t have to issue a public comment on the claim that talks were underway to sell ABC. But since the company did issue a formal denial, it would be in big trouble with the SEC if there were any such talks taking place, so it is now certain that the rumors and speculation were without any foundation. Only NBC is being sold. ABC and CBS aren’t being shopped – and we’re pretty sure that News Corporation isn’t looking to sell Fox either.