Disney-Pixar to sell its theme park empire to private equity group for $8.4B
Disney-themed amusement parks will be sold to an investment group led by billionaire venture capitalist Paul Tudor Jones, the Walt Disney Company said on Thursday.
Disney-owned theme parks such as Epcot and Hollywood Studios will be purchased by The Walt Disney Co., the company said in a regulatory filing.
The group is expected to complete the transaction by the end of the year, and Disney-branded theme parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will continue to operate.
The Walt “Star Wars” franchise will be preserved.
Disney is expected pay a $2.4 billion price for The Walt Company, which is part of Walt Disney Animation Studios and its sister company, Pixar.
Jones, a former chairman of the Walt family, is one of the largest investors in Disney-related businesses.
The Disney board is expected meet on Dec. 5 to approve the sale.
The company said Disney’s theme parks and the Disney Channel, which features original shows, films and documentaries, will remain part of Disney.
Disney theme parks are known for being among the most expensive in the world.
Disney will have a net income of $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, the company’s second consecutive quarter of operating profit, according to financial analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The net income is the difference between what Disney said it made in the first and second quarters of the quarter.
Disney reported its first-quarter earnings on Thursday, a quarter earlier than its forecast.
Disney, which has seen its share price plummet over the past few years due to competition from rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft, has struggled to regain footing as a leader in ride-sharing.
Jones said Disney and its theme parks would be used as a means to leverage Disney’s “unparalleled portfolio of intellectual property and creative talent.”
Disney also will continue producing movies and other entertainment properties, the filing said.
Jones also will have an ownership stake in Disney, the Disney Co. said in the filing.
Disney has a valuation of $72 billion, and it has a debt-to-equity ratio of 8.2 percent, the same as Disney stock.