Verizon Feels No “Urgency” To Make Content Or Spectrum Deal, CEO Says

It’s time to cool all of the deal speculation regarding Verizon, the telco’s CEO Lowell McAdam told analysts today in a briefing about the company’s wireless plans.

He appeared miffed by the market chatter last month that followed his interview with Bloomberg where he said he’d be open to talking to Comcast, Disney or CBS. Some investors believe any of these companies would help Verizon to compete with AT&T, which bought DirecTV in 2015 and has a deal to buy Time Warner.


“We prefer to grow organically,” McAdam says. “Then the question was, ‘Well, if you got a phone call from somebody, would you talk to them?’ You know, I like to consider myself a polite and hospitable person. That doesn’t change anything that’s gone on in the past five years. If somebody calls, you have a nice chat with them.”

“But the bottom line is: We don’t feel the urgency that seems to be out there in the analyst community, the banking community, and the media.”

He told the gathering that he would not discuss “hypotheticals.”

McAdam said he also wouldn’t discuss possible deals to tap spectrum that other companies own.

But he did briefly mention Comcast’s new wireless phone alliance with Charter. Both plan to collaborate on services in their markets that would mostly tap into WiFi, with Verizon connecting cell phone calls. Several years ago the telco agreed to wholesale its service to the leading cable operators if they enter the wireless business.

The Comcast-Charter alliance would preclude a deal with any other wireless provider for at least a year. That contributed to a 3.3% drop in Charter’s stock price today; some investors thought that Verizon might bid for the No. 2 cable company.

McAdam says he told Comcast CEO Brian Roberts that “I don’t see any difference in the relationship between Verizon and Comcast or Charter before or after their announcement. They had the right to work together…and frankly we encourage them to work together because dealing with one customer is a lot better than working with multiple customers.”

He added: “If you’re interested in their M&A aspirations you have to talk to them. We aren’t going to talk any more about that.”

Broadly, the CEO says Verizon wants additional wireless bandwidth to deliver the internet which “is becoming more and more video based.”

“If you can deliver that content across a TV, a PC, any mobile device to a customer wherever they want to have it delivered — we think that company is in a position to take significant share,” he says. “You don’t need to compete solely on the connectivity layer. You can compete in the overall experience.”

AOL chief Tim Armstrong talked up the potential for his operation after Verizon buys Yahoo’s media assets to create a digital content unit that will be called Oath.

With 1.3 billion customers — expected to hit 2 billion by 2020 — Verizon’s content, distribution and data will make it “one of the best positioned companies in the world” in digital media, he says.

“You can go everywhere from the NFL to Procter & Gamble,” Armstrong adds.

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