Disney CFO Responds To Activist Investor Call For ESPN Spinoff: “We Like The Hand We Have”

Disney’s chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said today, “We like the hand we have with ESPN,” calling the sports network and streamer an important piece of the broader portfolio.

She made the comments at a media conference in response to a question about investor Daniel Loeb of Third Point Capital, who last month sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek urging the company — among other moves — to spin off ESPN.

“As a management team, we always look at our assets and look at is our portfolio made up of the right group of assets? Are we leveraging things across the business so it’s more than just a standalone company barnacled onto a larger company?” she said. “ESPN is a great business and it is fully integrated into how we think about delivering entertainment [and] compelling content to customers.”

That said, “We always looking at are there other alternatives, where we would be better off doing something different. And we have gone down that road very deliberately and rigorously with my finance team and strategy team…We look at ESPN as being part of our overall portfolio.”

Loeb, who revealed a small Disney stake, also asked for cost cuts, a refresh

of Disney’s board of directors and a speeded up timeline to buy in the rest of Hulu from Comcast.

Disney responded at the time that it welcomes “the views of all our investors.” It noted that its latest financial results continue “to deliver strong financial results powered by world-class storytelling and our unique and highly valuable content creation and distribution ecosystem. Under the leadership of Bob Chapek, the company has delivered this strong performance while navigating the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, including record streaming subscriptions and the reopening of our parks, where we have seen strong revenue and profit growth in our domestic parks business.”

McCarthy and Josh D’Amaro, chairman Disney Parks, Experiences & Products, also talked the upcoming Disney+ AVOD offering, advertising and parks.


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