Comcast proposes to buy Walt Disney

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The cable television systems giant Comcast Corp. today proposed to buy the theme park and entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. for stock valued at about $54 billion.

Comcast, the biggest cable systems operator in the US said it would also take on $11.9 billion in Disney debt to push the total value of the deal to $66 billion.

"This is a unique opportunity for all shareholders of Comcast and Disney to create a new leader of the entertainment and communications industry," said Comcast President and Chief Executive Officer Brian L. Roberts said in a statement.

Comcast also released a letter sent to Disney chief executive Michael Eisner indicating that Eisner had personally rejected Roberts' offer earlier in the week.

The letter from Roberts called it "unfortunate" that Eisner was not willing to enter into discussions about the proposed deal. "Given this, the only way for us to proceed is to make a public proposal directly to you and your board," the letter stated.

Under the merger, Comcast said it would issue 0.78 of a share of its stock for each Disney share, and Disney shareholders would retain 42 percent of the combined company. The deal would give Disney shareholders a premium of more than $5 billion, based on Tuesday's closing stock prices.

Comcast has more than 21 million cable subscribers.