Comcast shareholders cancel meeting

AT&T deal uncertain

Cable TV corporation's bid might face challenge

September 14, 2001|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

PHILADELPHIA - Comcast Corp. has canceled a Sept. 24 shareholders meeting, which some investors say frees executives of the No. 3 U.S. cable television company to restart talks with AT&T Corp. about buying AT&T Broadband.

The gathering had been scheduled to take place the day after investors expect AT&T directors to conclude a three-day meeting to consider rival proposals to Comcast's $49.8 billion bid. The meeting was canceled for reasons unrelated to AT&T, Comcast spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick said, declining to comment further.

AT&T Chairman C. Michael Armstrong has been exploring options such as a higher offer for AT&T Broadband, the biggest U.S. cable company, since rejecting Comcast's unsolicited bid in July, investors said. Having likely failed to attract a better offer, AT&T may restart talks, said Adrian Davies, an analyst at Federated Investment Management.

"They [Comcast] want to be free if AT&T offers terms which are acceptable to them to enter into negotiations," said Davies, whose Pittsburgh firm owns shares of both companies. "The ball, as far as I see it, is in AT&T's court."

AT&T, based in New York, had insisted on its Philadelphia-based rival signing a confidentiality agreement before reopening talks, something Comcast hadn't done as of Aug. 1, people familiar with the situation have said. Comcast has said it won't increase its bid for AT&T Broadband unless a rival offers more.

AT&T shares fell 5 cents to $17.65 on Monday, the last day of trading before U.S. markets were closed because of terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They have fallen 28 percent over the past year. Comcast's Special Class A shares, down 9.3 percent in the past year, fell 81 cents to $34.48 on Monday.

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