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Verizon CFO: Disney acquisition talk was 'taken out of context'

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam (L), Disney CEO Bob Iger. (Reuters)

Verizon (VZ), on Thursday, shot down rumors that it is talking to companies like Disney and Comcast about potential mergers and acquisitions.

Talk of Verizon purchasing or joining forces with Disney gained traction on Tuesday when Bloomberg reported that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was open to deal talks from Comcast (CMCSA), Disney (DIS), or CBS (CBS).

Stock prices for the three media businesses immediately rose on the report.

But on Thursday, Verizon CFO Matthew Ellis attempted to reign in speculation about the telecom giant’s future moves, saying the comments were taken out of context.

“Lowell was asked a question in an interview if a certain company called, and he wanted to talk would he take that meeting. And he responded, ‘Sure we’d take that meeting’,” Ellis said on the company’s earnings call.

“The story was a little taken out of context. He was answering a question about if somebody called would we take the call and would we have a conversation with them. Of course we would, but we’re also very confident with the assets we have and the plans we have in developing the business in an organic fashion as well and generating shareholder value,” Ellis explained.

Essentially, Ellis is saying that while Verizon isn’t actively looking to make any deals with the likes of Disney, the company wouldn’t turn down a call from possible partners in the media industry.

Verizon’s media push

Verizon has certainly been making moves into the world of digital media in recent years. In 2015, the company bought up AOL, which is home to The Huffington Post, Engadget and TechCrunch, and is in the process of purchasing Yahoo Finance’s parent company Yahoo (YHOO).

As Yahoo Finance’s Dan Roberts pointed out Wednesday, Verizon is particularly hungry for digital video content. Joining forces with Disney would give the carrier access to Disney’s partnership with BAM Tech, Major League Baseball’s highly respected video streaming arm.

So no, Verizon isn’t actively looking to acquire Disney, Comcast or CBS. But the carrier certainly has reason to pay attention if either of those companies come knocking.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.