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The Walt Disney Co. said today it is buying longtime partner Pixar Animation Studios Inc. for $7.4 billion in a deal that could restore Disney's animation domination while vaulting Pixar CEO Steve Jobs into a powerful role at the media conglomerate.

Disney will buy Pixar in an all-stock transaction that makes Jobs Disney's largest shareholder. Jobs will also join Disney's board.

Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve as president of the new combined Pixar and Disney animation studios, reporting to Disney chief executive Robert Iger and Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

Pixar Executive Vice President John Lasseter will be become Chief Creative Officer of the animation studios and Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company's theme parks.

"With this transaction, we welcome and embrace Pixar's unique culture, which for two decades, has fostered some of the most innovative and successful films in history," Iger said in a statement.

"Disney and Pixar can now collaborate without the barriers that come from two different companies with two different sets of shareholders," Jobs said in a statement. "Now, everyone can focus on what is most important, creating innovative stories, characters and films that delight millions of people around the world."

With Pixar, Disney gains a company that has produced a long-running string of animated blockbusters, including "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo."