HK government claims Disney progress

Talks focus on stalled expansion of park

HONG KONG--The Hong Kong government Saturday claimed "substantial progress" in its stalled talks to expand the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park.

"I am happy to note that substantial progress has been made in the negotiations," said the Special Administrative Region's financial secretary, John C. Tsang, after a meeting Friday in Los Angeles with Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

"Whilst a number of issues remain to be sorted out, both sides are committed to bringing the discussions to a successful conclusion in the near future."

Disney and the Hong Kong government have been embroiled in protracted discussions over financing for a second phase of the park, which could cost a reported HK$3 billion ($387 million). In March the company appeared to freeze expansion plans when it made redundant some 30 staff who had helped conceptualize and plan the Hong Kong expansion.

The government is in a tricky position as it is majority owner, but relies on Disney to operate and manage the park that opened in 2005. Meantime, Disney recently signed a framework agreement to build another park in China, near Shanghai.