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Comcast investor seeks to oust CEO

January 18, 2008|From the Associated Press

One of the largest shareholders of Comcast Corp. is upset with the cable operator's flagging stock price and wants Chief Executive Brian Roberts ousted.

Describing Comcast's management and board supervision as a "Comcastrophe" -- playing off its advertising tag line of "It's Comcastic" -- Chieftain Capital Management Inc. in New York said it wanted better shareholder returns from the cable company.

"It's time for a change," Chieftain said in a letter this week to the Philadelphia company's board of directors. "We want and deserve the best CEO Comcast's board of directors can find -- and, based on his record, Brian Roberts is not it."

Shares of Comcast fell 77 cents to $17.41 on Thursday, moving toward a four-year low.

Chieftain owns 60.5 million shares, about 2%, of Comcast.

The cable firm said it had met with Chieftain, an investment advisor, but disagreed with its views and would answer the letter in due course.

"Our management team is intensely focused on executing our strategic plan, investing for profitable growth and creating long-term shareholder value," Comcast said in a statement.

John Shapiro, managing director of Chieftain, said his firm sent the letter Monday after failing in other attempts to get management to change.

"Their emphasis has been growth, not return to shareholders," he said. "There's nothing wrong with growth, but if you overpay for it, it dilutes the value to shareholders."

Shapiro said Comcast had spent more than $80 billion on acquisitions in the last decade, often paying more than 20 times operating cash flow.

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