Disney May Boost Offering by $50 Million
Despite challenges or inquiries in three states, a limited partnership designed to raise $150 million for Walt Disney Productions has sold shares so successfully that an additional $50 million worth may be offered, Silver Screen Management said Thursday.
Sales of the limited partnership offering by E. F. Hutton & Co. have been challenged by state officials in Massachusetts and North Carolina and are under investigation by Pennsylvania regulators.
The Massachusetts Secretary of State on Wednesday issued a cease-and-desist order against Hutton, contending that Hutton had sold the units without properly registering them for sale in the state and without considering the suitability of potential customers.
Silver Screen Management, the general partner of the offering, issued a statement saying that it is trying to resolve the problems with state regulators and noted that both Silver Screen and Hutton had been assured by outside lawyers that all necessary approvals had been obtained before the offering began.
Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Michael D. Eisner was unavailable to comment, and Erwin Okun, a company vice president, said he would not comment.
May Sell Part of Parks
On a separate issue, however, Okun did confirm a published report that Disney is considering selling some parts of its theme park if it can continue to manage the properties.
“We are considering a fundamental restructuring of some of the company’s assets,” Okun said, but he insisted that “there’s nothing imminent.”
Wall Street, however, appeared to have a different opinion Thursday, and the price of Disney stock jumped $5.25 a share to close at $89.625 on the New York Stock Exchange, setting a new 52-week high.
David Londoner, an analyst with Wertheim & Co., said he expects the company to try to move swiftly to take advantage of current tax laws that would make a sale-and-lease-back deal more profitable.
Alan Kassan, a securities analyst with First Manhattan Co. who said he spoke to a Disney official Thursday, said: “Something is close at hand on the hotels but not the theme parks.”
Kassan estimated that Disney might receive $300 million if it sells its three existing hotels on the Florida acreage of Walt Disney World.
Spokesmen for Hyatt Corp. and Marriott Corp. confirmed that Disney has approached them about a possible sale of Disney hotels, but they declined to elaborate.
Since last fall, when the wealthy Bass family of Fort Worth gained effective control of Disney with a 25% holding and helped install the current management, analysts have expected some redeployment of the company’s assets.
In response to a reporter’s question, Okun confirmed that Albert Checchi, a principal of Bass Bros. Enterprises, has been working at Disney’s Burbank headquarters for three months “on a part-time basis to confer on financial strategy and other related financial matters,” adding that Checchi came “at our invitation.”