Update: Disney released the following statement earlier this afternoon saying that the section of the criminal complaint pertaining to the sale of ABC was not true:
The Walt Disney Company has been fully cooperating with this investigation.
The reference in the complaint to conversations regarding the ABC Network were and are false.
The original version of the story is below:
An ex-employee of the Walt Disney Company and her boyfriend have been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud for attempting to sell insider information about the company to hedge funds.
According to the criminal complaint, the employee wrote in an email that Disney was in “advanced negotiations” to sell the ABC television network to two private equity firms, though a final price had not been determined. Unclear is what would happen to ABC News or the owned and operated local stations. They could be part of the larger package, or as we have written about here they could be sold separately.
Rumors of an ABC sale have been floated for months, but the criminal complaint is the most concrete evidence yet that Disney chief Bob Iger is interested in selling the broadcast network sooner rather than later.