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Disney moots Infoseek buyout

Deal to tie up loose ends before full Web operation spin-off

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Disney wants to increase its stake in Internet portal Infoseek from 43 per cent to 100 per cent, the company has said. Such a deal would require the approval of both companies' shareholders, said Disney, but it admitted it was discussing such an arrangement with the Portal to see whether it would be a viable way to proceed. What makes the discussions interesting is Disney's comment that it is also looking at issuing a new class of stock for the combination of Infoseek and its own Internet businesses. That neatly ties in with earlier speculation that Disney intends to spin off its Internet operations to cash in on the inflated prices Net shares have been sold at over the past nine months or so. Other media companies, such as Ziff-Davis, have been equally keen to spin off their online divisions, again with the prospect of profitable share trading enriching the company coffers. Here in the UK, Bath-based Future Holding's upcoming sell-off looks set to value the company at £525-600 milion, despite the fact it lost £9.5 million last year. Meanwhile, Disney already has a portal site, the Go Network, that's co-owned by Infoseek, so buying up the latter and merging it with Go would neatly tie up all the lose ends. The cost would presumably be amortised through the money Disney would make through the sell-off of the combined operation. ®

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