Euro Disney target of 'unfriendly' takeover


NEW YORK -- Small and little-known Switzerland-based Center-Tainment AG plans to unveil Thursday a takeover attempt for French theme park operator Euro Disney, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday in confirming European media reports.

Observers said Zug-based and Frankfurt-listed Center-Tainment will face an uphill battle to be taken serious in its hostile takeover plan.

The firm is set to announce its goal to reach a slim majority in Euro Disney at a news conference today at a Paris hotel. The company is expected to offer €0.11 (14 cents) of its own stock for every Euro Disney share, the source said.

Euro Disney said that it is aware of the expected "unfriendly takeover offer," but "despite our attempts to obtain information from them, we have been unable to secure material information on this company." Euro Disney added that its management remains "focused on its daily operations as well as its long-term growth strategy."

Center-Tainment officials were not available for comment. Its Web site said the company is looking for investments in or takeovers of firms that allow it to build "family entertainment centers."

Reuters reported that Center-Tainment CEO Ulf Werner said last week that his firm is targeting an unspecified publicly traded company, whose management and shareholders could put up resistance to a bid, which would be unveiled today.

Debt-ladden Euro Disney is 39.8% owned by the Walt Disney Co., with Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal indirectly also holding a 10% stake.

Center-Tainment has been listed in Frankfurt since late September. Its shares closed up 11.1% on Wednesday at €20 ($26.31). Euro Disney shares jumped 28.6% to €0.09 (12 cents).

Paul Bond in Los Angeles contributed to this report.