NEWS - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney buys Lucasfilm

Disney Buying Lucasfilm for $4 Billion

5:03 p.m. | LOS ANGELES - The Walt Disney Company, in a move that gives it a commanding position in the realm of fantasy movies, said Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. from its founder, George Lucas, for $4.05 billion in stock and cash.

In a hastily convened conference call with investors Tuesday afternoon, Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said the company plans to release a seventh "Star Wars" feature film in 2015, with new films in the series coming every two or three years after that. Mr. Lucas will be a consultant on the film projects, Mr. Iger said.

"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," Mr. Iger said in a statement.

Jay Rasulo, the company’s chief financial officer, said Disney’s financial calculations in agreeing to the purchase Lucasfilm were driven almost entirely by the potential of the "Star Wars" series, which already has a place in the Disney theme parks. Mr. Rasulo said Lucasfilm’s licensing revenue comes mostly from toys and heavily from North America. Disney, he said, is positioned to extend the licensing business to other products and to strengthen it internationally.

Mr. Rasulo said Disney expects within two years to repurchase the shares it is issuing to fund the purchase. Lucasfilms, he said, should begin boosting Disney’s earnings by 2015.

The companies said Disney would pay approximately half of the purchase price in cash, and would issue about 40 million shares to cover the balance when the deal closes.

With the acquisition, Disney will acquire Lucasfilm’s live action production business, along with its Industrial Light & Magic effects business, its Skywalker Sound audio operation and its consumer products unit, among other things.

In a statement, Disney said it was particularly pleased to acquire the filmmaking technology that comes with Mr. Lucas’s company, and expects "sustained growth" from "Star Wars" and other Lucas properties as they are joined with Disney’s parks and existing entertainment and licensing businesses.

"It’s now time for me to pass ‘Star Wars’ to on to a new generation of filmmakers," Mr. Lucas said in a statement.




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