Is this another proof of the theory that all you have to do to ruin a perfectly respectable brand, business or concept is just put the prefix “Euro” in front of it?
Euro Disney SCA, the company that runs Disneyland Paris, said Monday it is to get its second bail-out from its parent company in three years, with a €1 billion ($1.25 billion) recapitalization plan to cut its crippling debt burden.
The company is to raise €420 million with a shareholder rights issue, while The Walt Disney Company (DIS) will convert into equity €600 million in debts owed to it. It will also consolidate three other loans to its Paris-based affiliate into a new, single revolving €350 million credit facility, as a result of which Euro Disney will have until 2023 to pay back loans that were originally due over the next four years.
The writing has been on the wall for Euro Disney for some months, as the Eurozone economy–and the French economy in particular–has slowed to a crawl, buffeted by powerful headwinds out of the Ukraine crisis which has led the E.U. to put sanctions on Russia, one of its biggest trading partners.
The theme park’s home market in France has also been hit by the inability of President Francois Hollande to turn around business confidence or reduce the country’s chronic problems with unemployment.
“Disneyland Paris is Europe’s number one tourist destination, but the ongoing economic challenges in Europe and our debt burden have significantly decreased operating revenues and liquidity.” said Tom Wolber, president of Euro Disney.
Visitor numbers to the park are expected to fall to between 14.1-14.2 million this year from 14.9 million, while the occupancy rate at its hotels will fall to between 75%-75% from 79.3% last year, according to a statement accompanying Monday’s announcement. In all, the company expects to lose between €110-120 million this year.
That’s a stark contrast with the rude health of Disney’s business in the U.S., where even the slower-growing theme parks division is posting sales growth of 8% this year.
Euro Disney was effectively broke as of Sept. 30, with negative equity of €200 million as of Sept. 30. The recapitalization cuts its indebtedness to €1 billion from €1.75 billion.
Euro Disney shares fell some 15% on the news as investors, who will be heavily diluted if they don’t sign up to the capital increase, prepared for the cash call. Disney owns just under 40% of Euro Disney, while the Saudi Prince Alwaleed owns 10%.