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April 28, 2004
Disney Sports Signs Deal With Izod
Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. and Disney Sports Attractions Inc. have signed an agreement making the Izod brand the official swimwear provider of the water parks and pool areas at Walt Disney World Resort. Izod also will become the official sportswear provider and the preferred sportswear brand of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Disney Completes Acquisition of Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House
The Walt Disney Company has completed its previously announced acquisition of the "Muppets" and "Bear in the Big Blue House" properties from The Jim Henson Company, it was announced today by Michael Eisner, chief executive officer of the company. Disney has already begun integrating these characters into the company. Kermit and Miss Piggy appeared on the widely-watched inaugural episode of The Nick and Jessica Variety Show on ABC.
Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable television company, said Wednesday that it's scrapping its $60 billion bid for Walt Disney, effective immediately. The Philadelphia-based cable television company said it has become clear that Disney's management and board have "no interest" in putting the companies together.
The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors has concluded its annual retreat. As a result of the thorough review of Disney's long-term growth plan, the Board is confident that the management team is executing against its strategic plan in order to continue to drive long term shareholder value. The Board continues to have complete confidence in Michael Eisner, Bob Iger and the senior management team and in their strategic growth plan to continue to strengthen the company's position as the global leader in quality family entertainment. The Board, in executive session, continued its systematic assessment of both CEO and senior management succession.
Shares of Walt Disney Co. were down in midday trading on rumors a bid for the entertainment giant may be dropped. The rumors came as the company's board met Monday, reportedly to iron out a succession plan for Chief Executive Michael Eisner. Disney lost 45 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $24.20.
Disney Board to Gather, Eisner Succession on Table
Finding a successor to Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner is a top item on the agenda when the company's board meets next week for its most substantive discussions since shareholder unrest at the company's annual meeting in March.
Walt Disney-Inspired Consultant Urges Disney Board To Adopt 'Experience Management' Approach
Lou Carbone, Founder and CEO of Experience Engineering, Inc., a Minneapolis-based consulting firm, today urged George Mitchell, chairman of the board of Disney Corporation, to "bring back the magic of experience" at Disney. In an open letter to Mitchell, Carbone said "It is time to put the current Disney crisis in perspective. The situation in which you are now embroiled is not about life-and-death or the fates of nations."
Nearly three-fourths of shareholders in Walt Disney Co.'s 401(k) plan cast ballots to remove Chief Executive Michael Eisner, it was revealed Monday. Dissident shareholders Roy Disney and Stanley Gold released data that showed a larger portion of 401(k) participants cast their ballots to remove the company's former chairman than the overall shareholder vote of 45.4 percent indicates. Further, 63.7 percent of 401(k) participants voted to remove George Mitchell from the Disney board. Disney officials said Fidelity Investments was responsible for most of the vote, voting in proportion to the small group of 401(k) participants who actually cast a ballot.
In response to guest comments, Walt Disney World theme parks will test a varied Extra Magic Hour schedule from May 9-22 to include time in both the early morning and evening. The revised schedule will give Guests eight opportunities to enjoy the Extra Magic Hour each week (one hour prior to and as many as three hours after regularly scheduled park hours). Guests staying at Disney-owned-and-operated resorts, as well as those staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, or the Lake Buena Vista Hilton, may enjoy both the morning and evening Extra Magic Hours at no charge with valid theme park admission. Guests staying at Shades of Green may participate in the morning offering only.
Walt Disney World will be testing magnetic-style screening devices or metal detectors after hours at its theme parks, sources tell Local 6 News Thursday. Although security was increased at Disney parks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, only open-bag security checks are currently performed at the entrances to theme parks. The devices would possibly screen Disney visitors like airport passengers. Security experts familiar with the story told Local 6 News that the move is a critical development in Disney's security agenda.
A new tally on the recent Walt Disney Co. shareholder vote shows percentages were slightly higher to remove Chief Executive Michael Eisner and three other board members. A total of 45.4 percent of the votes cast opted to remove Eisner, up from the previously reported 43.4 percent. The vote to remove Mitchell was revised upward from 24.1 percent to 25.7 percent. Bryson's vote climbed from 22.3 percent to 24 percent and Estrin's total rose from 23 percent to 24.4 percent.
The Walt Disney Company and representatives of several state public employee pension groups will meet on May 21, a spokesman for one of the groups said Tuesday. The funds sought a meeting with Disney board members last month, but it was unclear who from the company would attend the gathering.
Walt Disney Company Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said on Monday that earnings from continuing operations at the media giant would rise more than 40 percent in fiscal 2004 compared with last year. Staggs's forecast topped Disney previous earnings target of more than 30 percent growth, although Wall Street analysts on average are even more bullish. The forecast came after Disney's $100-million epic film "The Alamo" sold barely $9 million in tickets its opening weekend.
Union dealings with management at Comcast Corp. and the Walt Disney Co. appear to be a study in contrasts: The Philadelphia cable giant has a reputation as a union-buster, while Disney is considered largely union-friendly. So if Comcast, which launched a takeover bid for Disney on Feb. 11, were to succeed in acquiring the entertainment giant, one Disney union leader fears that Disney employees and customers would suffer. A Comcast officer, however, disputed that prediction.
Disney shareholders cannot imagine their company - and its family-oriented face - under the control of a cable firm. The stock market isn't cooperating. Neither is the Walt Disney Co.'s board. And two months after Philadelphia's Comcast Corp. launched its bid to buy Disney, the biggest obstacle of all to a deal may be Disney's mom-and-pop shareholders - folks who simply cannot imagine Disney in the hands of a cable company.
Former Senator George Mitchell will not seek reelection to the board of Sheraton brand owner and operator Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the company said in a filing on Thursday. Mitchell recently was named chairman of Walt Disney Co. after the board stripped that role from Chief Executive Michael Eisner. Both men have been under fire from shareholders, and Mitchell has stepped up his activity at the film studio and entertainment conglomerate.
Disney Plans Earth Day IMAX Release Of 'Sacred Planet'
Jon Long's goal is to show people parts of the world that may be gone soon. A snowboarder, mountain biker and windsurfer, he has found that his sports skills helped him as he trekked to remote parts of Thailand, Borneo, New Zealand, Africa and more for his Disney-produced movie "Sacred Planet." Disney is releasing the 45-minute film to IMAX theaters across the country in commemoration of Earth Day, an international day that spotlights environmental concerns. The elders have their say in the movie. "One of our goals was to have most of the words in the film spoken by elders from indigenous cultures around the world, that would create most of our narrative and they can leave a message they are trying to pass on to the next generation," says Long.
Roy Disney Visits National Hispanic Cultural Center In Albuquerque
Roy E. Disney, the former Walt Disney Company board member and nephew of Walt Disney, and his wife Patty toured the new $22.5 million "Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts" at the National Hispanic Cultural Center & Foundation in downtown Albuquerque. The Disney's have contributed $1 million to help fund the construction of the performing arts center. Roy Disney tried to twist inquiries toward the event of the day, calling the theater "incredible" and saying he and his wife were "thrilled and flattered that our contribution was that meaningful." But even without saying much, he made clear he is not going to give up efforts to restore the family company to its original vision - a "magic" place where innovation and quality took a priority over profits.
Roy Disney and Stanley Gold to Sue to Get Voting Results
Dissident Walt Disney Company shareholders Roy Disney and Stanley Gold said on Wednesday they would sue the company to get results for the March 3 shareholder vote on Chief Executive Michael Eisner's reelection to the board. Disney and Gold said the company wanted them to sign a confidentiality agreement before allowing them further access to the tallies, which they have so far refused to do. The company did not immediately comment on the latest letter from Roy Disney and Stanley Gold's attorney accusing it of trying to "delay and obfuscate" the release of voting results, particularly the employees' pension plan, which Disney and Gold see as a proxy for employee support of Eisner.
Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Ride Under Scrutiny Again
Disneyland was ordered Tuesday to retrain two employees who run the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which was involved in a weekend collision between two empty trains while the ride was shut down. The two trains collided at 10:40 p.m. Saturday during the restarting of the ride after it shut down when a passenger at the loading area pushed open a gate, officials said.
Disney Accuses Orlando Company Of Trademark Infringement
Mickey Mouse might have landed on your cell phone illegally. Now, a David versus Goliath legal battle is underway. Some of the world's largest corporations are going after an Orlando company, accusing them of trademark and copyright infringement. KMR Wholesalers sells cell phone accessories. Disney and some other huge companies claim the designs on the cell phone covers are ripping them off.
Walt Disney Co. will close in early June its Japanese unit that has handled production of hand-drawn animation, as part of a move to reorganize its animation business globally. The U.S. entertainment and media giant is shifting from traditional hand-drawn animation to 3-D productions involving computer graphics, and will consolidate its animation operations into two locations, including California, where the company is based.
Disney Tries To Move On, Adjust After March's No-Confidence Vote
To hear Michael D. Eisner tell it, getting stripped of one his jobs was the best thing that's happened to him in some time. "I never realized how much work being chairman was," Walt Disney Co.'s chief executive told financial analysts Thursday night. "Immediately, I realized I'm relieved of a lot of the things I had. I am going back to work." Like a bloodied fighter, Eisner staggered back to his corner, got a splash of a water and a towel-off, and answered the bell for the next round.
The chairman of Walt Disney Co.'s struggling ABC network has begun negotiations to leave his post amid a broader restructuring, according to news sources on Tuesday. Lloyd Braun, who has at least two years left on his contract, would likely leave ABC by next month, when the TV networks sell the bulk of their advertising spots for the upcoming season during the "upfront" market.
Forced To Act, Disney's Board Considers Its Next Steps
When the board of the Walt Disney Company convenes for a two-day corporate retreat at Disneyland later this month, directors are expected to debate how powerful they should become in light of the recent shareholder revolt that led to Michael D. Eisner losing his chairman's title. Depending on which viewpoint prevails, it could affect not only how much of a hand Mr. Eisner, 62, has in naming his successor but also whether he leaves before his contract ends in 2006.