Euro Disney banks to form audit panel

Euro Disney’s bankers have called timeout in their hardball negotiating game with the Walt Disney Co. over the future of the massive leisure complex at Marne-la-Vallee.

The banks, which are being asked to back the Euro Disney financial restructuring, plan to set up a commission to audit the Euro Disney books before renewing talks with Michael Eisner’s Disney team.

The commission is expected to finish the audit before Christmas so that discussions can start again early next year.

Disney, which has a 49% stake in the theme park, presented the syndicate of 60 international banks with its version of the financial drama at a meeting in early November and caught the bankers in warm-up mode.

According to one banker in the syndicate, the group doesn’t doubt the Disney figures but wants to have its own numbers before returning to the talks.

According to sources at the initial meeting, the Disney players threatened to take their losses and walk away from Euro Disney. That would have left the banks , which own most of Euro Disney’s 20.3 billion francs ($ 3.4 billion) debt, to manage a park which would not even have the Disney name or characters attached to it.

But the bankers are now scrambling to pick a steering panel, which will probably be headed by Banque Nationale de Paris or Banque Indosuez.

In purely financial terms Disney can afford to play rough. The Burbank entertainment giant put in only around 1 billion francs ($ 169 million) of the 24 billion francs ($ 4 billion) the park cost to build.

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