Disney sends buyout offers to 600 parks execs
Reuters, Wednesday January 21 2009
LOS ANGELES, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it sent voluntary buyout offers to 600 executives at its domestic theme parks to cut costs amid an economic meltdown that has depressed attendance and prompted the company to deeply discount Walt Disney World stays.
Disney said if the buyout offer, which expires Feb. 6, does not produce enough reductions, the company will consider layoffs.
A company spokeswoman declined to say what amount of savings or head count reductions Disney was trying to achieve, or what the cost of the terminations would be.
The buyout offers come about six weeks after Disney said its hotel bookings had started to rebound as a result of the discounts. The move appears to be part of "significant" costs savings the company promised investors late last year.
Disney Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said at that time that hotel bookings were down about 6 percent in the company's first and second quarters, an improvement over the 10 percent drop the company previously forecast for that period.
In a letter dated Jan. 22, Disney told employees it needed to streamline its executive work force "at all levels" to reduce its cost structure.
The buyouts would become effective between mid-February and the end of March, the letter from Jayne Parker, senior vice president of human resources, said.
Disney shares closed up about 4.9 percent to $21.23 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Gina Keating; editing by Carol Bishopric)