Walt Disney Co. (DIS) won European Union approval to buy George Lucas’s Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, combining two of Hollywood’s most lucrative film franchises.
The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator, said overlaps were “very limited” for the two companies’ activities in home entertainment, gaming software, film production and distribution and licensing for both broadcast rights and merchandise, according to an e-mailed statement today.
“The commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition” in Europe, the Brussels-based authority said in the statement.
The deal, announced in October, will add “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” to Disney’s roster of film hits including “The Avengers” and “Finding Nemo.” The “Star Wars” films have generated $4.54 billion in worldwide ticket sales, second to Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter,” according to Box Office Mojo. “Indiana Jones” pictures have collected $1.95 billion.
The acquisition complements Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger’s focus on sequels and film franchises, fitting the same profile as its purchase of Marvel three years ago. Disney paid a combined $11 billion for Pixar and Marvel in the past decade.
Lucas, 68, the sole owner of Lucasfilm, will receive half of the purchase price in cash and the balance in stock, becoming a major investor in the film, theme-park and TV company, according to an Oct. 31 statement from Burbank, California-based Disney. Lucas will receive about 40 million Disney shares, becoming the second-largest non-institutional shareholder with about 2.2 percent of the company, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The largest is the trust of late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, who sold Pixar to Disney in 2006.
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