The BLOG FLUME - Not-so-sad Farewells
Universal says goodbye to a loser, Eisner might say goodbye to another creative source and Jean-Marie Messier might soon say goodbye to freedom.
Written by Kevin Baxter
LA AVENTURA IS OVER-ATweet
LA Times - Jun 22
NBC Universal has already decided it wants out of the theme park business. At least in Spain. Universal Mediterranea will now be a Universal resort in name only. The company sold its 37% stake to its former partner, the Spanish bank La Caixa, for $30M. The park will still license the Universal name, but that is it.
While many people are questioning whether this is just the start of a theme park sellathon, I think it isn't. No one could expect cost-conscious GE, NBC Universal's parent company, to hold onto a loser like this for very long. Now if they sell their Universal Japan shares, then it's time to be worried.
While many comparisons have been made between Michael Eisner driving away creative geniuses like those at Pixar and those at Miramax, nobody has mentioned that those two could combine forces to truly make Eisner's life miserable. Well, some Hollywood investment bankers are doing everything they can to make that happen.
But would such a merger benefit both companies? Disney claims Miramax loses money on a semi-regular basis. Disney loves to play fast and loose with accounting methods so whether or not this is true is anyone's guess. But Miramax certainly isn't the cash machine Pixar expects to be post-Disney. But Pixar's slow output keeps its stock price from soaring into the stratosphere. Miramax, even with minimal profits each year, could help keep stock prices up.
So it could possibly be a good match, but bankers are also trying to encourage a Weinstein-led bid for MGM. This might actually be more attractive to the Weinsteins, who would be able to milk the MGM film library and not answer to some moron who looks like the missing link. (Seriously, check out the picture!)
Say what you will about France, but it is a country that doesn't kiss the ass of the rich, unlike the government of a certain country who likes to ridicule it. Jean-Marie Messier, former CEO of Vivendi Universal, built the company into a Disney-style behemoth, all the while denying he ever did anything wrong in doing so.
Well, it seems he did do wrong. Very very wrong. After 9/11, Vivendi allegedly spent $1.2B in a stock buyback scheme to prop up its share price. While it isn't illegal for a company to buy its own stock, there are limits, which Vivendi supposedly exceeded. Messier was also arrested for insider trading, but there aren't any details on that.
So I guess the US will police the world for imaginary WMDs and France will have to police the rich. Unless you are a famous television personality, the US won't touch you if you are rich and white. Hell, if you are scummy enough, they'll probably give you a post in the Cabinet.
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