Comedian and media mogul Byron Allen has reportedly made a $10 billion offer to acquire the ABC TV network, FX and National Geographic cable channels, and local stations from Walt Disney, according to a report from Bloomberg. The publication’s source claims that the offer is “preliminary and could change,” and that Allen would work with banks and private equity firms to finance the deal.
Disney has yet to publicly acknowledge Allen’s offer. In a statement published earlier this week, the company said it was “open to considering a variety of strategic options for our linear businesses” in response to rumors that it was in talks to sell the aforementioned properties to Nexstar Media Group. Bloomberg’s report claims that Allen may sell off the non-ABC affiliated local TV stations he already owns to avoid the deal causing tensions with other networks like CBS and NBC.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has taken several cost-cutting measures recently to reduce overhead spending, including layoffs and restructuring key parts of the company. In an interview with CNBC back in July, Iger said the company was also considering selling off some of its linear TV assets amid market disruption that began during the covid pandemic. Disney’s portfolio of traditional TV networks includes the ABC network and cable TV channels like ESPN.
The offer for ABC isn’t an unusual move for Allen. The comedian-turned-producer has invested $1.3 billion over the last few years to add new assets to his media portfolio, including the Weather Channel and a string of local stations from Honolulu to Tucson. Not every bid to purchase other media properties has been successful, however, and those that were have saddled his company — Allen Media — with a fair bit of debt.
We’re sure to learn more when Allen takes the stage at the Code conference, which is being co-hosted by Verge Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel starting on September 26th.