NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell Says Comcast Is Always Eyeing ‘Bolt-on Acquisitions’

The media giant’s president Michael Cavanagh cautions that any possible outside deals would be weighed against investing in its current businesses

Jeff Shell
Getty Images

As speculation swirls among Wall Street investors of potential M&A activity in the entertainment industry, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said Comcast is always keeping an eye out for “bolt-on acquisitions” that bolster its business.

“We bought DreamWorks [Animation]…and it has been paying off steadily since our acquisition. Just now, with ‘Puss In Boots: [The Last Wish],’ which is a big hit at the box office and really our entrance back into the Shrek universe, continues to make that acquisition look really favorable,” Shell noted on the media giant’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday. “And we’ve invested in our Blumhouse investment over time, where we’re partners with Jason Blum, and we have a big hit, ‘M3GAN,’ this month, which is coming out of that investment. So we are always looking at bolt-on acquisitions that don’t necessarily involve big industry consolidation questions.”

However, Comcast president Michael Cavanagh emphasized on the call that the company’s bias would lean towards “investing behind our businesses themselves where we control, operate, know what we’re doing, have momentum, no surprises.” 

Shell and Cavanagh’s comments come after former Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon returned to the company’s board of directors in July. At the time, he suggested that the company could potentially be put up for sale. Peacock signed a deal for exclusive streaming rights to WWE content in 2021 which comes up for renewal in 2024.

Comcast has been floated as a potential suitor, along with Disney, Fox and Endeavor, but Shell and Cavanagh did not address WWE specifically on Thursday’s call.

WWE shares have climbed approximately 25% year to date and 71% in the past year. Comcast stock is up 12.8% year to date, but down roughly 17% in the past year.