Comcast CEO touts NBC Universal acquisition
Brian Roberts addresses annual shareholder meetingNEW YORK -- Comcast Corp. chairman and CEO Brian Roberts once again touted the planned acquisition of NBC Universal at the cable giant's annual shareholder meeting in its hometown Philadelphia Thursday.
The formal business portion of the event was Webcast, but, as in the past, the cable giant didn't Webcast the following general Q&A session. A spokesman said the company has followed this practice for years.
While many companies make the full Q&A portions of these annual investor gatherings available via the Internet these days, not all do. For example, General Electric, which is planning to sell 51% of NBC Uni to Comcast, last year also didn't Webcast its Q&A session, which featured some questions about its networks, including from a stockholder and Fox News employee.
In his prepared remarks Thursday, Roberts said that the regulatory review process for the planned acquisition of NBC Uni is about half-way done. "The transaction, we think, is moving well," he said. "We've had a good reaction."
Labor unions, groups representing independent content producers and opponents of media consolidation are among those that have aggressively lobbied against the deal.
Roberts also once again lauded NBC Uni's "wonderful suite of channels," said the acquisition would be "transformative" and lauded Comcast COO Steve Burke as the right person to oversee the content company.
He also touted signs of an advertising recovery at NBC Uni and what he called the "successful" Winter Olympics without mentioning the loss they made.
Management on Thursday got a show of support for the NBC Uni deal from an unlikely source -- shareholder activist Evelyn Y. Davis who is better known for criticizing corporate decisions. She told the meeting that she is "looking forward to" the deal.
"Steve Burke a very good person in charge."
In his presentation, Roberts also highlighted volunteer initiatives at Comcast amid concerns of some over the company's size and intentions.
And he highlighted that investors have fared well since his father took Comcast public in 1972, saying the stock's average annual return of 16.7% has about doubled the 8.6% of the broad-based S&P 500 stock index.
As an example, he said someone who invested $7,000 in Comcast early on would now have nearly $2.5 million.
Discussing the economy, Roberts said "2009 was one of the most painful years for the American economy," and his team remains "constantly concerned" about events around the world that could affect the economy. However, he emphasized that Comcast focuses on making long-term decisions rather than changing courses constantly.