Shares in Euro Disney were down a little less than 15% at noon Paris time following the announcement of a proposal for a 1B euro ($1.25B) recapitalization plan backed by its largest shareholder, The Walt Disney Company. The resort group, which operates Disneyland Paris, has been strained under challenging economic conditions in Europe with attendance at the Marne La Vallée park projected to drop from 14.9M in 2013 to about 14.1M in the 2014 fiscal year. Along with a dip in hotel room occupancy, Euro Disney’s ability to invest in Disneyland Paris has been hampered, the company said. The theme park remains Europe’s top tourist destination, but is now saddled with 1.75B euros in debt.
Under the proposal announced Monday morning, Euro Disney would receive a 420M euro cash infusion from a rights issue backed by Disney in which existing shareholders will be able to participate. Walt Disney would buy shares of those investors who do not wish to participate. The proposal would also see Walt Disney covert 600M euros of debt owed to it into equity in Euro Disney. Loan repayments would be deferred until 2024. Euro Disney says the measures would improve its cash position by about 250M euros.
The recapitalization,the Financial Times notes, comes after Walt Disney in 2012 took over Euro Disney’s loans from a syndicate of banks and provided new funding.
Walt Disney owns 40% of Euro Disney. Its second largest stakeholder is Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. According to Reuters, he has not yet decided whether to subscribe to the capital increase.