Walt Disney Company sells stake in GMTV

ITV has taken full control of the British breakfast TV broadcaster GMTV after it acquired a 25% stake from the Walt Disney Company in a deal worth £22.25m.   The network now plans to more closely integrate GMTV’s breakfast-time programming with its daytime lineup.
“GMTV is the gateway to the ITV day and a perfect fit with ITV’s existing daytime programming,” said ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell. “It represents an exciting opportunity to create a highly complementary daytime schedule offering great programming from 6am to 6pm.”
GMTV has held the national Channel 3 breakfast-time licence since 1993, when it outbid the incumbent TV-am for the slot. Prior to today’s move, ITV owned 75% of the broadcaster.

Euro Disney S.C.A. Reports Fiscal Year 2009 Results

Euro Disney S.C.A. published its 2009 results today.  Here are the highlights, the full report is avaible here.

• Attendance of 15.4 million with an 87% hotel occupancy rate
• Revenues decreased 7% to € 1,231 million, driven by a decline in guest spending
• Net loss of € 63 million, as lower revenues were partially offset by a 2% reduction in costs and expenses
• Generated Free Cash Flow, ending the year with € 340 million in cash and cash equivalents.
• Opening of Toy Story Playland at the Walt Disney Studios® Park in 2010
Commenting on the results, Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S, said:

“During the fiscal year, we were faced with the most challenging economic environment in our history, which drove certain fundamental changes in consumer behavior. These changes included booking significantly closer to their visits, searching for promotional offers and travelling closer to their homes. As a result, we adapted our offers to address our guests’ changing needs. This decision delivered record park attendance of 15.4 million and an 87% hotel occupancy rate, down from last year but high by industry standards.
We saw our guest mix change, as attendance was driven by French and Belgian markets, offsetting significant weakness from Spain and the United Kingdom. These changes also impacted guest spending and hotel occupancy, lowering our revenues. Throughout the year we also balanced our promise of a high-quality Disney entertainment experience for our guests while managing costs.
The strength of the Disney brand and the attractiveness of our Resort as Europe’s number one tourist destination position us well when the recovery of the economies of our key markets and the leisure and tourism industry occur. We continue to invest in the long-term growth of our Company and we look forward to opening Toy Story Playland, inspired by the popular Disney-Pixar Toy Story characters and films, at the Walt Disney Studios Park in summer 2010.”
Resort operating segment revenues decreased by 6% to EUR 1,212.7 million from EUR 1,283.5 million in the prior-year period.
Theme parks revenues declined by 4% to EUR 688.2 million from EUR 715.8 million in the prior-year period, primarily resulting from a 5% reduction in average spending per guest to EUR 44.22, partially offset by an increase in attendance. The reduction in average spending per guest reflects lower spending on admissions and merchandise. This lower spending was driven by additional promotional offers, which reduced average admission prices, and a higher proportion of our guests visiting from markets close to Paris. These guests generally spend less on merchandise. Theme parks attendance increased slightly to 15.4 million. This increase was driven by higher guest visitation from France and Belgium, partially offset by fewer guests visiting from Spain and the United Kingdom.
Hotels and Disney(R) Village revenues decreased by 8% to EUR 474.7 million from EUR 515.6 million in the prior-year period, due to a 5% decline in average spending per room to EUR 201.24 and a 3.6 percentage points decrease in hotel occupancy from 90.9% to 87.3%. The decrease in average spending per room principally reflected more promotional offers and lower spending on merchandise. The reduction in hotel occupancy resulted from 80,000 fewer room nights compared to the prior-year period, primarily driven by fewer guests visiting from Spain and lower business group activity, partially offset by more guests visiting from France and Belgium.
Other revenues, which include participant sponsorships, transportation and other travel services sold to guests, decreased EUR 2.3 million to EUR 49.8 million.
Real estate development operating segment revenues decreased by EUR 23.1 million from the prior-year period as a result of fewer transactions during the Fiscal Year as compared to the prior-year period. Prior-year real estate revenues also included EUR 12.5 million of revenue related to the sale of a property in Val d’Europe which had been subject to a long term ground lease.
Direct operating costs decreased € 25.1 million compared to the prior-year period, due to reduced costs associated with lower real estate development and hotels activity, lower labor costs resulting from management’s labor optimization initiatives and lower spending on non-vital rehabs. This decrease was partially offset by labor rate inflation.

Marketing and sales expenses decreased € 1.4 million compared to the prior-year period, due to lower average advertising rates.

General and administrative expenses decreased € 3.3 million compared to the prior-year period, due to lower labor costs.
Financial income decreased € 7.3 million due to lower average short term interest rates.
Financial expense decreased € 6.5 million, primarily due to lower average borrowings.

For the Fiscal Year, net loss of the Group amounted to € 63.0 million compared to a net profit of € 1.7 million for the prior-year period. Net loss attributable to equity holders of the parent amounted to € 55.5 million and net loss attributable to minority interests amounted to € 7.5 million. The net loss of the Group was driven by the decreased revenues and operating margin compared to the prior-year period.
Free cash flow generated for the Fiscal Year was € 52.0 million compared to € 105.9 million in the prior-year period.
Cash generated by operating activities for the Fiscal Year totaled € 123.8 million compared to € 178.2 million generated in the prior year period. This decrease resulted from the decline in operating margin, which was partially offset by lower working capital requirements.

Cash used in investing activities for the Fiscal Year totaled € 71.8 million compared to € 72.3 million used in the prior-year period.

Cash used in financing activities for the Fiscal Year totaled € 86.0 million compared to € 61.6 million used in the prior year period. This increase reflected the scheduled repayment of bank borrowings made by the Group during the Fiscal Year.

For Fiscal Year 2009, the Group has unconditionally deferred payment of € 25.0 million royalties and management fees due to The Walt Disney Company (“TWDC”) and converted this amount into long-term subordinated debt.

In addition, the Group has defined performance objectives and must respect certain financial covenant requirements under its debt agreements. For further detailed information on this, refer to the Group’s 2008 Reference Document 1.

For Fiscal Year 2009, the Group did not meet its performance objectives as defined and thus deferred the following payments into long-term subordinated debt:

– € 25.0 million of the Fiscal Year royalties due to TWDC,

– € 15.1 million of interest due to the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (“CDC”).

The Group expects to defer payment of a further € 5.1 million of interest due to the CDC during the first quarter of fiscal year 2010.

These deferrals and the Group’s compliance with its financial covenants requirements are subject to final third-party review as provided in the debt agreements. Subject to this final third-party review, the Group believes that it has complied with its financial covenant requirements for the Fiscal Year.

For fiscal year 2010, if compliance with financial performance covenants cannot be achieved, the Group will have to appropriately reduce operating costs, curtail a portion of planned capital expenditures and/or seek assistance from TWDC or other parties as permitted under the debt agreements. Although no assurance can be given, management believes the Group has adequate cash and liquidity for the foreseeable future based on existing cash positions, liquidity from the € 100.0 million line of credit available from TWDC, and use of the conditional deferrals.

Scheduled Debt Repayments

The Group plans to repay € 89.9 million of its borrowings in fiscal year 2010, consistent with the scheduled maturities.

New Generation Festival

In April 2010, Disneyland® Paris will launch the New Generation Festival, a celebration welcoming the most recent

Disney characters into the Parks. Remy1 from Ratatouille, Princess Tiana from the upcoming Disney animated feature The Princess and the Frog and many more characters arrive at Disneyland Paris. These new characters will be showcased in the Once Upon a Dream Parade, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars and on the Disney all stars express.

During the celebration in summer 2010, the Walt Disney Studios® Park will welcome three new family attractions in Toy Story Playland, inspired by the animated Disney-Pixar feature Toy Story. With oversized decor, guests will have the impression that they’ve been reduced to the size of Andy’s toys as they come to life in Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog, Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer. 

Christmas lights turned on in Oxford Street

The hallowed Christmas lights of London’s Oxford Street have been turned on for the festive season by Hollywood star Jim Carrey who will feature heavily on the big screens of Christmas lovers this winter.
The star of A Christmas Carol, Disney’s new animated film, Carrey was joined in the procession by fellow actor and co-star Colin Firth who lit up Regent Street. At St Paul’s Cathedral the illumination was made by Bob Hoskins, who voices the pawnbroker Mr Fezziwig in the upcoming blockbuster.
The traditional lighting ceremony included musicians Peter Andre, The Noisettes, The Saturdays and new romantic icons Spandau Ballet.
2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the lighting of Oxford Street and was the first time Regent Street had been illuminated at the same time. Once London was aglow, an attempt at the world’s largest Christmas carol group was made at St Pauls under the lead of Andrea Bocelli and the Cathedral Choir which included crowds at Leicester Square.
Carrey said the collective carol singing was beautiful and also claimed that the movie was the best version of the Dickens’ tale he has ever seen. The new film claims to show the story in a new way for a new generation. Carrey uses his array of vocal talents to voice Scrooge and several other characters in the movie. The actor said he delved into the emotional mindset of Scrooge who felt unloved and unworthy of the love of others in preparing for the role.
The movie premiered after the lighting ceremony at 13 cinemas nationwide.
Sorce: by Beth Williamson

Shanghai Disneyland

We have exciting news tonight. The Walt Disney Company has released information concerning the Disney Shanghai theme park project. Here’s the news release:
BURBANK, Calif. – November 3, 2009 – The Walt Disney Company today announced that the Project Application Report (PAR) for a Disney theme park in the Pudong district of Shanghai has received approval from the relevant authorities of the central government of China.
“China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for The Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
The PAR approval will enable Disney and its Shanghai partners to move forward toward a final agreement to build and operate the park and begin preliminary development work. Upon completion of the final agreement, the project’s initial phase would include a Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region and other amenities consistent with Disney’s destination resorts worldwide.