Activist Investor Dan Loeb Walks Back Suggestion That Disney Spinoff ESPN

Activist investor Daniel S. Loeb has walked back his recent suggestions that Disney should spinoff ESPN into its own business and integrate Hulu into Disney+ according to Variety.

  • Last month, Investor Daniel Loeb and his firm Third Point have reportedly purchased a “significant stake” in The Walt Disney Company. In turn, Loeb sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek detailing some of his suggestions for the company.
  • This morning, he took to Twitter to explain that he now has a “better understanding” of ESPN’s potential as a standalone business and Disney’s plan to more deeply integrate it into its direct-to-consumer operations.
  • This came after Disney CEO Bob Chapek made it clear in interviews on Saturday that he has no intention of spinning ESPN off into its own business.
  • Variety reports that Loeb’s walk back likely indicates that he will not step up his public pressure on Disney and seek to field an alternative slate of directors at the company’s annual meeting next spring.

What they’re saying:

  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek: “You can look at this from two different ways, from the guest standpoint or from a commercial standpoint or a shareholder standpoint. Does it actually make sense? And I think that in Dan’s case he was more asking the question, is this the right business combination for the company? Our investors only know what we’ve shared with them to date. They don’t really know what our plans are for the future. We’ve got very ambitious plans for sports.”
  • Chapek: “The advertising demand for ESPN speaks volumes. But what else speaks volumes is that when the word was out on the street that maybe Disney will spin off ESPN, we had no less than 100 inquiries of people that wanted to buy it. What does that tell you? That says we’ve got something really good. And if you have a strategic plan, a vision for where it fits into the company over the next 100 years, then you don’t exactly want to divest yourself of it. And we have that plan.”