31st March – 7PM EST
In recent weeks, the Blackstone Group LP have announced that they plan to sell their 50 percent stake in the Universal Orlando Resort back to NBC Universal. But, in a shock twist, the NBC group have declined to take up their offer siting “lack of funds” to complete the deal before its deadline. “We studied the proposal and considered our options very carefully,” NBC Universal spokeswoman Cindy Gardner said in a statement. “We know that by declining the offer from Blackstone it means opening up doors to other investors and we are willing to work closely with Blackstone to make such a deal successful”.
What they didn’t realise is that Disney Executives, including Bob Iger, have been in discussions for the past few weeks and have put in a bid to take over Blackstones 50%. Although the deal is yet to be signed, talks are well in advance. “We have begun initial discussion with Blackstone and the deal is looking very promising” said Iger, president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, last night. “We are keen to help develop the Universal resort further and expand our current partnership with the Marvel characters”.According to a Blackstone press release “The purchase is conditioned upon obtaining consents from certain third parties and amendments to certain agreements with the lenders under USE’s syndicated debt facility.” If this is cleared, expect to see the deal finalised in the near future.
This agreement, expected to cost Disney around around $5.45 billion, will give them a major share of the theme park market in Orlando. As well as it 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and Disneyquest it already owns, it will also see another two more “thrill” based parks and another water park added to their portfolio. Disney declined to comment on the change of their pricing structure or ticket options to allow entrance to the Universal parks but if the deal is finalised expect to be able to buy a multi-day ticket giving access to both Disney and Universal parks. Although still a rumour, there is also talk of Disney and Universal providing better transport links between the two resorts.
What do you think to the news? Is this something Disney are doing for strategic reasons or is it something that they have considered for sometime. Either way, it may bring some exciting new prospects to both parks and the chance for old and new Imagineers to work together once more. We will keep you updated on further developments as they unfold.
Yes, some of you guessed it already! This indeed was an April Fool. Sorry to those who fell for it (you know who you are) and those who actually researched it until they relised it was an April Fool. I won’t do one next year, or maybe I will!!