Disney tightens Euro Disney grip in deal with Saudi's Alwaleed

Markets Reuters

(Copyright Reuters 2017)

Walt Disney Co has increased its hold on Euro Disney SCA by swapping a 9 percent stake in the French theme park with Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding <4280.SE>, the investment firm owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

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Kingdom and Alwaleed are major investors in U.S. companies in the technology and other sectors and together own more than five percent of Twitter Inc .

Kingdom Holding said on Friday it had traded 90 percent of its shares in Euro Disney into Walt Disney Co stock, gaining a net profit of $61 million through the deal.

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

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, Euro Disney managers say.

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

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Kingdom Holding will have a 1 percent direct ownership of Euro Disney 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.

(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Alexander Smith)