Disney revamps in Italy

MILAN — The Walt Disney Co. announced it will reorganize its activities in Italy, spinning off its most popular publication, Topolino (the Italian moniker for Mickey Mouse), which will become a separate limited company from Oct. 1.

“It’s a strategic move, which became necessary because Topolino is increasingly becoming a more important business. It will become the core of all Disney activities in Italy, which are expanding in several sectors,” said Paolo Cavaglione, Topolino editor in chief.

Walt Disney Co. Italy president Umberto Virri will be appointed president of the new company, Topolino Spa.

With more than 4 million readers, most of them adults, weekly Topolino leads a galaxy of 31 publications, books and other products dedicated to Mickey Mouse and the other Disney cartoons.

Parent company Walt Disney has never unveiled the financial results of its Italian unit, but according to analysts, its sales reached $120 million in 1995, while distrib arm Buena Vista posted about $68 million. Both figures are believed to have greatly expanded last year. Sales of the licensing sector rose 65% in 1996, while the gifts division sales rose more than 100%, the company said.

Disney’s activities in Italy also include three Disney megastores in Turin, Florence and Venice, and an upcoming pay TV cartoon channel, which will start operating in October on Telepiu’s digital satellite platform.

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