Disney May Raise Stake in Its Hong Kong Theme Park (Update1)
By Le-Min Lim
Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co., the second-largest U.S. media company, may increase its stake in its struggling Hong Kong Disneyland theme park as attendance figures falter.
``We do anticipate an additional investment ourselves,'' said Hong Kong Disneyland's managing director, Bill Ernest, in an interview in Hong Kong today. He didn't elaborate.
Disney owns a 43 percent stake in Hong Kong Disneyland with Hong Kong's government, which paid for land reclamation, roads and other supporting works, holding the balance. The theme park in November asked banks to allow it to delay debt repayments amid falling attendances, prompting some lawmakers to claim it wasn't designed to cater for local habits and culture.
The Burbank, California-based company isn't in talks on opening a park in Shanghai, Ernest said today.
``We are fully focused on our Hong Kong park,'' he said.
The Hong Kong park attracted more than 4 million visitors in its second year of operations, the city's Tourism Commission said in a paper to be discussed by lawmakers. In the 12 months after opening in September 2005, more than 5 million visitors arrived, which was less than forecast.
``We expect to be busier this year than last year,'' Ernest said, declining to specify targets.
Hong Kong Disneyland agreed with lenders in November to remove debt covenants to help it focus on attracting more visitors. Disney will forgo royalties.