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Microsoft ditches Comcast shares

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Microsoft recently sold its 7.26 per cent stake in Comcast, in what is being seen as another burst of financial housekeeping ahead of tomorrow’s second quarter earnings report.

A US Securities and Exchange Commission filing, dated 16 January, disclosed that Microsoft no longer holds any Class A shares in the Philadelphia-based cable giant.

Before the sale the software vendor had a stake in Comcast of about 150.9m shares.

Microsoft first showed an interest in Comcast way back in 1997, when it invested $1bn in the company to help plump up the outfit’s deployment of high-speed data and video services over its then blossoming network.

The Wall Street Journal suggested the stake could have been worth between $2bn and $3.4bn when Microsoft offloaded.

It’s not clear from the filing when Redmond sold the shares or at what price, but the company’s decision to back away from Comcast could be viewed by many as yet another effort to cut costs.

Microsoft has around $9bn in cash according to its balance sheet. Having another few billion bucks to play with as it enters into a bout of restructuring isn't going to hurt though.

Comcast, which has seen shares tumble in recent months, learned yesterday that it was once again in trouble with the US Federal Communications Commission over possible net neutrality violations in its latest "protocol-neutral" internet traffic management regime. ®

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