HK may sell stake in Disney park
Hong Kong may eventually consider selling its 57 percent stake in the new Hong Kong Disneyland theme park, a government official said, less than two months after the new attraction opened its doors.
"In the long run, the government may consider in the light of the "Big Market, Small Government" principle to divest its shareholdings in the company at an appropriate time when it is in the overall economic interests of Hong Kong to do so," Financial Services Secretary Frederick Ma said on Wednesday.
Ma did not specify a timeframe for any potential stake sale.
A Disney spokeswoman in Los Angeles said that although the company's agreement with the Hong Kong government does allow it to sell its stake in the theme park, "it is not something that's imminent."
"We have no indication of a change in the government's position," Leslie Goodman, senior vice president of communications for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong government and The Walt Disney Co. agreed in 1999 to set up a joint venture to build the theme park and resort complex, which opened in September.
Ma said the government had spent HK$25.5 billion (US$3.29 billion) so far to get the theme park up and running, including land, transport links and loans.
The park is expected to give a major boost to Hong Kong's economy, creating tens of thousands of much-needed jobs and generating $19 billion in revenue at the venue over 40 years, according to government estimates.
But some critics have charged that the government gave too much away in its negotiations with Disney and fear the U.S. entertainment giant will eventually open another park in Shanghai, damaging profits.
Attendance at the park has got off to a slower than expected start, according to local media reports.
The park had been expected to draw 5.6 million visitors in its first year, a third of which are expected from China, and Disney has gone out of its way to lure visitors from the mainland.
Source : Reuters