Disney grabs Pixar, Jobs on board
ESPN and ABC Sports parent company the Walt Disney Company today agreed to acquire computer animation leader Pixar in an all-stock transaction, expected to be completed by this summer. Under terms of the agreement, 2.3 Disney shares will be issued for each Pixar share. Based on Pixar’s fully diluted shares outstanding, the transaction value is $7.4 billion ($6.3 billion net of Pixar’s cash of just over $1 billion).
“With this transaction, we welcome and embrace Pixar’s unique culture, which for two decades, has fostered some of the most innovative and successful films in history,” Iger said. “The addition of Pixar significantly enhances Disney animation, which is a critical creative engine for driving growth across our businesses.”
Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve as President of the new Pixar and Disney animation studios, reporting to Iger and Dick Cook, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. In addition, Pixar Executive Vice President John Lasseter will be Chief Creative Officer of the animation studios, as well as Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he will provide his expertise in the design of new attractions for Disney theme parks around the world, reporting directly to Iger. Pixar Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs will be appointed to Disney’s Board of Directors as a non-independent member. With the addition of Jobs, 11 of Disney’s 14 directors will be independent. Both Disney and Pixar animation units will retain their current operations and locations.
Jobs addition to the Disney board has many pundits wondering whether it will lead to more synergies between Apple and Disney-related properties like ABC or ESPN. For now, Jobs is focusing on the animation branch.
“Disney and Pixar can now collaborate without the barriers that come from two different companies with two different sets of shareholders,” said Jobs. “Now, everyone can focus on what is most important, creating innovative stories, characters and films that delight millions of people around the world.”
Disney first entered into a feature film agreement with Pixar in 1991, resulting in the release of Toy Story, which was hailed as an instant classic upon its release in November 1995. In 1997, Disney extended its relationship with Pixar by entering into a co-production agreement, under which Pixar agreed to produce on an exclusive basis five original computer-animated feature films for distribution by Disney. Pixar is currently in production on the final film under that agreement, Cars, to be distributed by Disney on June 9.
The Boards of Directors of Disney and Pixar have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antritrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Pixar’s shareholders. Jobs, who owns approximately 50.6% of the outstanding Pixar shares, has agreed to vote a number of shares equal to 40% of the outstanding shares in favor of the transaction.