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Euro Disney Bid: Mickey Mouse or for real? -


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  • Euro Disney Bid: Mickey Mouse or for real? -

    Story at:

    Euro Disney bid: Mickey Mouse or for real?

    Thu Nov 30, 2006 9:40am ET

    By Nick Antonovics

    PARIS (Reuters) - An obscure Swiss firm with no operations failed to resolve the question baffling Parisian journalists, investors and regulators on Thursday -- is it serious about trying to take control of Disneyland Paris?

    Center-Tainment AG (G6P.F: Quote, Profile , Research), which sent tremors through the Magic Kingdom by announcing plans to buy debt-laden operator Euro Disney (EDLP.PA: Quote, Profile , Research) on Wednesday, called a news conference to launch a bid worth 11 euro cents a share but then faltered.
    "Unfortunately our chief legal counsel is sick so we have had to postpone the action for a few days. The official offer will come in the next days," said Kurt Andreesen, who identified himself as an independent investment banker for the company.

    Shares in Euro Disney traded at eight cents, down one cent or 11 percent, after rising on Wednesday on word of an offer.

    The purported bid for the loss-making operator of Disneyland Paris, a European cousin of the U.S. Disney theme parks, started with a statement in broken English on Wednesday.

    Center-Tainment CEO Ulf Werner, 60, told reporters the aim of the bid was to gain management control and renegotiate the operating license agreements with Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote, Profile , Research).
    There was no immediate comment from Walt Disney.
    It was unclear how Center-Tainment intended to overcome the legal hurdles that protect Euro Disney's management, which is currently delegated to a 100 percent-subsidiary of Walt Disney.

    Under Euro Disney's statutes, the Walt Disney subsidiary has the exclusive right to nominate any new manager should the current arrangements change for whatever reason.

    Center-Tainment insisted it could get around these rules if it achieved its goal of obtaining 50.01 percent of the company.

    Andreesen said Center-Tainment would be in a position to manage the park "without Walt Disney", if necessary, although Werner said this was not the company's intention.
    Euro Disney said it had been unable to find out anything about its suitor. "Despite our attempts to obtain information from them, we have been unable to secure material information on this company," a statement said.

    Werner said France's markets regulator, AMF, had been informed of the offer "today". An AMF spokeswoman contacted after the news conference said there had been no contact and it was monitoring the situation.

    German regulator BaFin said it had no background knowledge about Center-Tainment, although a bid by a Swiss company, albeit German-listed, for a French one would not fall under its jurisdiction.


    Skeptical journalists pressed Werner and his entourage for details on their backers and their own backgrounds, but received vague answers. The company said its executives had decades of experience in the leisure industry, including indoor soccer.
    Center-Tainment said 45 shareholders, led by an unidentified German company, owned 99 percent of the stock and that the remaining one percent was traded in the market.

    Asked to identify which bank would lead any offering in France, Werner said: "It will be a Swiss bank."

    When pressed, he added: "There are several banks ... regarding the lead position of the bank, we are still negotiating."

    Center-Tainment's stock was down 75 percent at 5.04 euros at 1358 GMT after climbing sharply in recent weeks.
    Its market capitalization fell to 54 million euros, compared with Euro Disney's 312 million euros.

    Any purchaser would face an immediate headache over Euro Disney's debt of 1.6 billion euros.

    Center-Tainment was registered for the first time in the Swiss canton of Zug on May 19, when it changed its name from Orca and changed its purpose to that of a broad-purpose financial services and real estate holding company.

    It was listed in Frankfurt in September.

    Officials said they had bought Orca purely as a shell company for the purpose of mounting a Euro Disney bid.
    Andreesen said the company had a plan B in case Euro Disney investors rejected its planned share offer. "Maybe there will be a cash offer, as a next step, if our share offer doesn't work."
    Growing older is manditory
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  • #2
    Re: Euro Disney Bid: Mickey Mouse or for real? -

    It must be my negative mood right now, but it just seems that Disney theme parks are falling apart.


    • #3
      Re: Euro Disney Bid: Mickey Mouse or for real? -

      Originally posted by DisneyMickey View Post
      It must be my negative mood right now, but it just seems that Disney theme parks are falling apart.
      looks like I missed something I can not figure what you mean by falling apart!



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