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Viacom weighs China park,International Herald Tribune,2006.4.26

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  • Viacom weighs China park,International Herald Tribune,2006.4.26




    The company may license Paramount Pictures' intellectual property, a Viacom spokesman, Jeremy Zweig, said. Most or all of the park's cost, reported as $7 billion by newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan, will be paid by other investors, he said.

    China, which has had domestic theme parks for more than a decade, is seeking overseas investment as its tourism industry develops. Walt Disney has said it was in talks to build its first park in mainland China, possibly in Shanghai. It opened a park in Hong Kong last year.

    "Disneyland in Hong Kong has been a success story in attracting Chinese tourists," said Tai Hui, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong. "People are willing to pay a bit more for something that is run by an overseas operator and has the international vibe."

    Bill Ernest, managing director at Hong Kong Disneyland Group, and other company officials have said they expected the park, which opened Sept. 12, to meet its first-year attendance target of 5.6 million visitors.
    In the first 100 days of the park's operation, 26 percent of the more than one million visitors came from mainland China, the company said in November. It has not issued further figures.

    This indication of interest from China's middle class has drawn the attention of theme park operators from around the world, Hui said. While there has been speculation about several companies being in talks, most reports have been unconfirmed, he said.

    The Paramount Pictures-themed park would be built on a site of more than 40 square kilometers, or 15.5 square miles, bigger than Hong Kong Disneyland, the United Daily News, a Taiwan newspaper, reported Wednesday. The developers are counting on an express rail link to Beijing to bring more visitors to Tianjin by 2010, it said.

    Zweig said he did not know whether Paramount Parks, a unit of the New York-based CBS, would be involved in the project, or who the other investors would be. Officials at Tianjin Development and Reform Commission declined to comment.

    Tianjin, a port and industrial city of about 10.2 million people that is 120 kilometers from Beijing, had per capita disposable income of 11,467 yuan, or $1,430, in 2004. The municipality is not part of any province and its government reports directly to China's central government.

    Source: International Herald Tribune

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