UPDATE 7:10 PM: Walt Disney Co today registered with the SEC that George Lucas now has a $2.02 billion stake in the company in conjunction with the $4.1B cash and stock acquisition of LucasFilm in December. Lucas now owns 37.1 million Disney shares or 2.1% of the entertainment giant. This registration form is standard stuff and what companies must file when there’s a new offering of securities that may become available to the public. (In this case, Lucas’ stock.) But Bloomberg overreacted and at first incorrectly reported that the Star Wars creator was planning on selling all those shares. Both LucasFilm’s and Disney’s spokespeople immediately denied the report. (I hear one especially exercised Disney insider called Bloomberg and asked, “Are you fucking crazy?”) Yet morons at media outlets like The Hollywood Reporter sent out news alerts saying “George Lucas To Sell All His Disney Shares” aping the Bloomberg content. (But Deadline’s cautious headline at 6:10 PM read: ‘George Lucas’ Disney Shares Registered For Possible Sale: Bloomberg’ until I became involved.)
Don’t reporters realize that headlines can move financial markets? Or know that any one person unloading that much stock would have to do a separate SEC filing? Lucas has said that he plans to donate proceeds from the sale of Lucasfilm to education. But the registration form doesn’t suggest any sale is imminent. In fact, it says (the underlining is mine):
“The selling security holder has not advised us of any current plans, arrangements or understandings between any selling security holder and any underwriter, broker-dealer or agent regarding the sale of our common stock by the selling security holder. A selling security holder may decide not to sell any of our common stock described in this prospectus. We cannot assure holders that any selling security holder will use this prospectus to sell any or all of our common stock. In addition, a selling security holder may transfer, devise or gift the common stock by other means not described in this prospectus.”
After Disney completed the $4.1B cash and stock purchase of Lucasfilm in December, Lucas became the second largest non-institutional shareholder in Disney behind the trust of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs who sold Pixar to Disney in 2006.