NEW YORK — As rumors swirled about possible "white knights" that could help Walt Disney (DIS)
and embattled CEO Michael Eisner fend off a hostile takeover bid from Comcast (CMCSK
), Disney launched a counterattack.
With shares now trading well above Comcast's offer price, Disney is likely to reject Comcast's bid, though it is being reviewed by the board. Disney, which rose nearly 15% Wednesday, rose another 1.4% Thursday to close at $28. Comcast fell 3.7% to $30.06, after falling 8% Wednesday. (来源：英语麦当劳－英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)
And on Day 2 of the siege of Disney, Eisner and other top Disney executives came out swinging at the investor and analyst conference they are hosting at Walt Disney World in Florida.
Responding to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts' assertions that Disney's results are lagging, Eisner pointed to strong fiscal first-quarter results announced Tuesday and declared Disney is performing "spectacularly well." He also called "ludicrous" reports that his idea of succession planning is to leave his successor's name in a sealed envelope to be opened at his death.
Former U.S. senator George Mitchell, presiding director of Disney's board, said the company's revised and reformed corporate governance policies were "sound" and that it's "taking time for perception to fully catch up with reality."
The policies, such as no staggered board terms, also have made Disney more vulnerable. And Disney has no "poison pill" to make it tough for hostile bidders to amass shares.
Employing some gamesmanship of his own, Eisner said Thursday he might use company cash to issue a higher dividend. Eisner has also hired Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns to help evaluate the offer.
Analysts say Disney's best defense would be to keep its stock price up, possibly with a venture with a friendly partner, a stock buyback or an asset sale.
"The best defense of all would be for Disney to continue putting up good numbers — and convince investors that Disney is worth a lot more than Comcast has bid or might bid," says Mike Gallant, media analyst at CIBC World Markets.
One observer suggests that even if Disney survives, Eisner's 20-year hold on the Magic Kingdom will not.
"Eisner is a goner," predicts Anthony Sabino, law professor at the Peter J. Tobin School of Business at St. John's University in New York. "He'll either be ousted or a clear successor will be anointed. Either way, the end of the Eisner regime is in sight."