Disney’s board has decided to give shareholders a semi-annual cash dividend of 84 cents a share, matching the dividend it offered in January.
The dividend is payable July 26 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 9.
“The Walt Disney Company had an excellent first half this fiscal year, delivering a 59% increase in diluted EPS, and we are pleased to be able to pay another strong dividend to shareholders while continuing to invest for future growth,” said chairman and CEO Bob Iger.
The move comes as the vigil continues in the high-stakes duel for 21st Century Fox’s studio and cable network assets. Disney last week upped its accepted offer for the Fox portfolio, going 10% higher than Comcast in a cash-and-stock bid worth $71.3 billion.
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Many Wall Street analysts have described Comcast’s view of the Fox assets as must-have, and some believe the media company is willing to keep increasing its offer in order to make a deal happen. For the past week, though, all has been quiet.
The regulatory paths that the two acquisitions would follow are markedly different in some ways. Proponents of the Disney offer see the company as having fewer entanglements given that, unlike Comcast, it does not operate a leading distributor.
As with Comcast’s previous acquisition of NBCUniversal or the recent legal brawl over AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner, the question with Comcast could be how it plans to reconcile its No. 1 cable system with a deep well of content. Critics of the potential combination see a risk for competitors and consumers in its mix, though proponents point to the resounding decision of federal judge Richard J. Leon in approving AT&T-Time Warner.
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