Disney ends negotiations to sell stores in Europe -6/22/05 (Free registration required for link!)

Walt Disney Co., the nation's second-largest media company, ended negotiations to sell its Disney Store chain in Europe because there wasn't any interest from retail companies and the business is improving.

Disney virtually ceased holding talks with potential buyers of Disney's European stores, Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andrew Mooney said Tuesday at the Licensing 2005 show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. Talks to sell the 105 stores ended last week, he said.

The move is a change in plans for Burbank-based Disney, which announced in 2003 that it would sell both the European and North American chains because of lackluster revenue and profit growth. Disney completed the sale of its United States and Canadian stores last year to Secaucus, New Jersey-based Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc.

"We wanted to sell them with a partner and terms that worked (for Disney)," Mooney said of the European stores. "We're working under the assumption that we are going to retain them. There is room for growth."

Mooney, who said the European stores have been profitable for five years, said financial companies approached the company about a possible purchase.

"That wasn't an option that we felt in the long run was desirable for us and for our partners," Mooney said. Disney wanted a partner that had a long-term commitment to retail, Mooney said.

Children's Place bought the 313 North American stores last November for about $101 million.