Disney CEO rejects investor calls to spin off ESPN

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Walt Disney chief executive Bob Chapek has turned down billionaire activist investor Daniel Loeb's call to sell or spin off the ESPN sports television network.

Disney has been "deluged" with interest from other media concerns regarding the sports network, Chapek said in an interview with the Financial Times.

"If everyone wants to come in and buy it or spin it with us, I think that says something about its potential," Chapek told the FT. "I think its potential is within the Disney company."

"We have a plan for it that will restore ESPN to its growth trajectory," Chapek added.

DISNEY RESPONDS TO LETTER FROM ACTIVIST INVESTOR DAN LOEB

Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Loeb and his hedge fund Third Point, revealed in August a stake of roughly $1 billion in Disney and announced plans to shake up the media company.

Included in that plan was spinning off ESPN to buying back shares and adding board members.

At the time, Loeb called for ESPN to be spun off to reduce Disney’s debtload.

DISNEY TO RAISE ESPN+ PRICE TO $9.99 PER MONTH IN AUGUST

The ESPN logo on a camera covering a college football game. ((Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Chapek said he has "regular conversations" with Loeb. He characterized the conversations as "very collaborative, non-antagonistic and collegial," including around Loeb’s recommendations to change the composition of the Disney board. 

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DISTHE WALT DISNEY CO.115.17+2.85+2.53%

"We’re so consistent with Dan’s thinking that everything he’s talked about are either things we have considered in the past or are considering for the future," said Chapek.

Daniel S. Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus  / Reuters Photos)

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The Disney CEO spoke on the sidelines of the annual D23 conference in Anaheim, California, where the company revealed its streaming and theatrical slate to thousands of Disney fans. 

 

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