Walt Disney Co. will delist its first and only outlet in Europe, ending a 27-year run as an independent company for the Paris theme park that has struggled to match the popularity of its U.S. counterparts and had to be bailed out by its parent at least three times.
Disney now holds more than 97 percent of the capital of Euro Disney S.C.A. after it started a public tender offer for the European unit last year, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Disney raised its stake in February by buying 9 percent from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co. for 2 euros ($2.24) a share in stock and offered other investors the same terms.
Under French stock market regulations, Disney can now force a mandatory buyout of the remaining shares it doesn’t own and delist the company as of June 19. Euronext Paris had suspended the trading of Euro Disney shares Tuesday before the market opening.
Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger is doubling down on the troubled Paris resort as part of a deeper commitment by Burbank, California-based Disney to its global theme-parks business. Hurt by sputtering European economies in recent years, the park’s finances were further damaged by the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and challenging business conditions that continued through last year.
The Paris resort’s history includes several financing maneuvers over the years. In 2012, Euro Disney consolidated debt from a number of banks into a loan from its parent. Prince Alwaleed bought a 10 percent stake in Euro Disney in a refinancing in 1994, two years after its opening. Disney said in February it will support Euro Disney’s recapitalization of as much as 1.5 billion euros. That followed a 2014 rescue package, when the resort was pledged at least 1 billion euros over 10 years to add attractions and spruce up grounds.
Last year, Disney opened the $5.5 billion Disney Shanghai Resort, the largest foreign investment ever from the world’s biggest theme-park operator.
Shares of Burbank, California-based Disney were down 0.5 percent to $106.48 at 1:22 p.m. in New York. The stock has advanced 2.2 percent this year.