Walt Disney raises its stake in ailing Disneyland Paris

Park has struggled from debt, lack of visitors and guests not buying food and merchandise

Walt Disney is increasing its interest in Disneyland Paris to 85.7 per cent from 76.7 per cent. Photograph: iStock

Walt Disney is increasing its interest in Disneyland Paris to 85.7 per cent from 76.7 per cent. Photograph: iStock

 

Walt Disney has increased its hold on Disneyland Paris by swapping a 9 per cent stake in the French theme park with Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding, the investment firm owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Kingdom and Alwaleed are major investors in US companies in the technology and other sectors and together own more than five per cent of Twitter.

Kingdom Holding said on Friday it had traded 90 per cent of its shares in Disneyland Paris into Walt Disney Co stock, gaining a net profit of $61 million (€57.4 million) through the deal.

Walt Disney said it was acquiring the shares from Kingdom Holding at €2 ($2.13) per share, increasing its interest in Disneyland Paris to 85.7 per cent from 76.7 per cent.

Struggled financially

Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 and has struggled financially for much of that time from issues tied to its debt, a lack of visitors and guests who spend too little on food and merchandise, Disneyland managers say.

They say the firm has struggled because initial projections were too optimistic and the park borrowed too heavily.

Kingdom Holding will have a 1 per cent direct ownership of Disneyland Paris following the deal, which Kingdom Holdings said was worth $151 million and in line with its investment strategy and continued confidence in the Disney brand.

“We continue to have confidence in Disney and remain committed to investing in France, ” Alwaleed said in a statement.

– (Reuters)