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Verizon CEO Says Telco Is Open to Merger Talks With Disney, Comcast, CBS

Variety logo Variety 4/18/2017 Todd Spangler
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Verizon, which is in the midst of closing its deal for Yahoo, is open to M&A talks with the likes of Comcast, Disney and CBS, CEO Lowell McAdam said in an interview with Bloomberg.

A Verizon spokesman confirmed McAdam’s comments but said “the remark was more in the context of, ‘We’re always open to talking to anyone.'”

“If [Comcast CEO] Brian [Roberts] came knocking on the door, I’d have a discussion with him about it,” McAdam said, according to Bloomberg. He added that he would do the same thing if Disney’s Bob Iger or CBS’s Leslie Moonves came calling.

McAdam’s signal that Verizon is hunting for a game-changing deal comes after rival AT&T bid $85 billion for Time Warner to diversify into the entertainment business. AT&T also owns DirecTV, the No. 1 satellite TV provider, and has launched the over-the-top DirecTV Now service as a new competitor in the market.

Of course, just because Verizon’s chief exec says the company would be interested in a mega-deal doesn’t mean such discussions will come to pass.

Separately Tuesday, Yahoo said in announcing Q1 results that Verizon’s $4.5 billion deal for its operating businesses is expected to close in June. Once that’s completed, Verizon plans to merge Yahoo and AOL into a new entity called “Oath.” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is reportedly not going to join the telco, which lopped $350 million off the purchase price after Yahoo disclosed two massive data breaches that occurred in 2013 and 2014.

Wall Street has been rife with rumors and speculation recently about a variety of interesting potential combos, including such scenarios as Apple buying Disney and Disney acquiring Netflix.

Earlier this year, Verizon was considering a highly leveraged mega-billion deal for Charter Communications, which became the second-biggest cable operator in the U.S. after buying Time Warner Cable, the Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, Verizon is said to be planning to enter the over-the-top pay-TV sector this summer with an internet-delivered national service that includes several dozen channels.

Verizon shares closed up 0.8% Tuesday. CBS ended the day up 1.8%, while Comcast was up 1.05% and Disney stock closed up 0.4%

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