Mouse reveals stock issue, cash payment
Walt Disney Co. has completed its $4.06 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, two months after announcing its plans.Under terms of the merger agreement, Disney issued 37,076,679 shares and made a cash payment of $2,208,199,950. Disney made the announcement at the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, where Disney stock closed at $50 a share. The Mouse House surprised Hollywood on Oct. 30 when it unveiled its agreement to buy Lucasfilm Ltd. from George Lucas. Kathleen Kennedy, who was tapped by Lucas as his successor in June, will serve as prexy of Lucasfilm, overseeing all aspects of the “Star Wars” franchise, reporting to Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. Transaction closed relatively swiftly, likely spurred by the potential capital gains tax increases next year. An expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts means an automatic capital gains jump from 15% to 23.8%, and that’s sped up activity in the mergers and acquisitions space. Additionally, Disney has been one of the most proactive media congloms in addressing the potential fiscal cliff at the end of the year — when income taxes would go up on almost everyone. In November, the Mouse House boosted its annual dividend to shareholders by 25% to 75¢ a share. Plans for the release of a new “Star Wars” pic in 2015 have been spotlighted since the acquisition announcement. The deal also gives Disney future possibilities in the “Indiana Jones” franchise, and other films in development at Lucasfilm, along with vfx shop Industrial Light & Magic, audio post house Skywalker Sound, and videogame developer LucasArts. “We’re thrilled to welcome Lucasfilm to the Disney family,” said Disney topper Robert Iger in a statement. “Star Wars is one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time and this transaction combines that world class content with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets, which we believe will generate growth as well as significant long-term value.” Disney plans to bow a new “Star Wars” film every two to three years, beginning with “Star Wars: Episode VII,” in 2015 — the same year it has skedded its sequel to “The Avengers.”
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