Tuesday, 18th September 2012

Debt Mountain: The Walt Disney Company agrees €1.3 billion Euro Disney refinancing

Time to shoot for the moon again?

It’s not the rumoured share buyout, but it’s big: Euro Disney S.C.A., operating group of Disneyland Paris, tonight announced that a huge €1.3 billion of its epic debt pile will be refinanced by The Walt Disney Company itself, taking over from the banks which have stunted the resort’s growth. Given a longer lending term, less restrictive financial commitments and reduced interest payments, Disneyland Paris will be free to invest more in long-term growth and enjoy greater operational flexibility. Read More…

Monday, 19th March 2012

Rendez-Vous Disney boutique officially closes at Val d’Europe Centre Commercial

Farewell to the only Disneyland Paris boutique not located on Disney property. The oddity that was the ‘Rendez-Vous Disney’ store over in Val d’Europe has now officially closed its doors after just over eleven years of trading. It will be replaced by an expanded (or perhaps relocated) Oxybul “play and discovery” toy store, which already has a unit next door. Located in the Centre Commercial at the heart of the Disney-planned town within the resort’s boundaries, the store was operated by Euro Disney SCA alongside the other park, Village and hotel boutiques with Disney Cast Members and a select range of resort merchandise comprising clothing, toys, homewares and general souvenirs.

One of the original tenants at the vast 145-store mall upon its opening in 2000, it occupied a prized position right at the entrance onto Place d’Ariane, near the Val d’Europe RER station, making it one of the first stores many visitors to the centre would see. Original features included a large video wall and four projected clocks, showing the time in the then four Disney resorts around the world. The store appeared to see little subsequent investment in updates in the years that followed, and likely became unjustifiable as Disney cut its ties with the mall, especially with the vast array of stores just a kilometre or so away at the resort itself.

Its bricks and mortar already owned in a joint venture between real estate firm Klépierre (55%) and French insurer AXA (45%), the shopping centre continued to reside with a long-term lease on Disney-owned land until 2010, when the partnership acquired the land from Euro Disney SCA for €47m. Like the rest of the Val d’Europe development, it has been a real success, now attracting over 18 million visitors a year. But for those Disneyland Paris souvenirs, you’ll now definitely be wanting to stay on the RER train just one stop more.

PHOTO @InsideDLParis

Saturday, 8th October 2011

Bob Iger to remain Disney CEO for just 4 more years; stepping down in 2015

Get ready folks: you’ve got less than 4 years to work your way to top of the Disney corporate ladder. The Walt Disney Company just made the somewhat surprise announcement that Bob Iger will see his tenure as chairman and chief executive officer extended until 31st March 2015 when he will step down as CEO, giving him a neat 10 years in charge. This will leave the door open for a new leader, a rare moment indeed for Disney. Iger will continue to serve as executive chairman for 15 months as part of the succession plan, which you can read the full details of in the ABC News article here.

Unlike Michael Eisner, the previous CEO from 1984 to 2005 who was unceremoniously ousted from the position after a shareholder revolt led by the late Roy E. Disney, Disney has set Bob Iger’s departure date far in advance, while he still well admired by shareholders, Cast Members and fans. In the past six years, he has led Disney back toward quality entertainment after the deluge of so-called direct-to-video “cheapquels” of earlier in the past decade; overseeing massive expansions of Hong Kong Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in Florida and of course the billion-dollar Disney California Adventure rebirth. Shanghai Disney Resort, which broke ground earlier this year, will open in 2016.

Beyond the parks and just a year into his leadership Iger led the $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar, after Michael Eisner very nearly drove the visionary studio away from the company; bringing John Lasseter to the forefront of Disney’s creative vision and launching a rebirth of traditional animation at the studio. This would also make the now sadly passed Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs the largest individual Disney shareholder and member of the board, providing an important relationship with Apple at a pivotal moment as it revolutionised the entertainment and technology industries.

While Iger has so far been spotted during visits to Disneyland Paris several times, the resort has failed to see many revolutions during his time. The last expansion wave of new attractions between 2006 and 2008 was already signed and sealed a few months before he became CEO, and current projects such as the Ratatouille dark ride, Disney Village and hotel expansions continue to languish on the drawing board. A full-scale project to “fix” Walt Disney Studios Park with a huge DCA-style investment package has been rumoured for later this decade, but so far not forthcoming. The park is perhaps the final piece of Eisner’s later legacy that still requires fixing to bring it up to the Disney name. Could Iger help it along as a final hurrah before 2015? And who do you think will be his likely successor?

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