Understandably, much of the recent media attention has been focused on Michael Eisner's trouble at the top of the Walt Disney Company. But -- if I could direct your attention toward Paris for a moment -- I think you folks should be aware of another enormous PR problem that the Mouse is currently facing.
How many of you realize that EuroDisney SCA (I.E. the company that actually runs the Disneyland Paris Resort Paris) will actually run out of money to pay its bills by the end of March?
That's right. 'Way back in the last few months of 2003, EuroDisney management had to declare -- in front of the entire European media as well as the international financial community -- that the company's current financial situation was so bad that EuroDisney SCA needed a 212 Million Euro extension on its credit line in order to pay its bills and keep the DLP resort operating ... at least for the immediate future.
The only problem was that this credit line was only supposed to run 'til the end of March 2004. Which would (hopefully) be long enough for EuroDisney SCA's new management team (which is headed by Andre La Croix) to put together a new financial restructuring plan for the resort.
Mind you, it's not like nothing has been done over the past six months. During February, Prince Al Waleed (owner of about 25% of DLP stock) meet with embattled Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner in Paris to discuss the situation.
The meeting was actually held in an elegant hotel in the center of Paris. Where Eisner, HRH the Prince, Jay Rasulo, Thomas Staggs, Andre la Croix as well as representatives from all of the banks that hold the EuroDisney debt (which currently stands at 2 Billion Euros ... and climbing) talked for hours. Trying to find a "once and for all" solution to the EuroDisney SCA crisis.
Some have even said that Eisner -- while he was in Europe -- allegedly met with Jacques Chirca, the current president of France. With the hope that Chirac might be able to come up with a solution to the EuroDisney SCA problem.
To date, no solid information has leaked out of these meetings. Yet. Though it has been said that those in attendance were very impressed with what La Croix has achieved so far. Even though Andre has only been on the job for a very short time, he still managed to produce 1% total revenue in the first quarter of 2004. Plus DLP's new advertising campaign, "Need Magic?" seems to be working wonders as well.
Most of all, EuroDisney SCA's bankers were said to be extremely pleased with the way Andre has turned around the resort's sinking revenues. iWhich were -7% in the third and -11% in the fourth quarter of 2003.
The only problem now is that time and money is running out. The banks and the financial institutions involved in Disneyland Paris need the Mouse to quickly fix this problem once and for all.
Otherwise ... Should Michael Eisner actually manage to hang onto his job, he may soon have to face another group of angry shareholders.
Only this time, they won't be in Philadelphia. They'll be in Paris.