Sun, May 07, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Pixar shareholders vote to approve Disney stock deal


Shareholders of Pixar Animation Studios Inc voted to approve the company's acquisition by The Walt Disney Co for US$7.4 billion in stock.

Friday's vote makes Pixar a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney and makes former Pixar chief executive Steve Jobs Disney's single largest shareholder with about a 7 percent stake.

The deal is squarely aimed at restoring Disney's luster as a leader in the animated film business. Disney's own efforts have faltered over the past 10 years while Pixar's films have been huge successes.

Jobs was named to Disney's board as a non-independent member. He had already said that he would cast his Pixar shares, which represents 40 percent of the company's outstanding stock, in favor of the merger. Shareholders met briefly in San Francisco to ratify the deal.

Under the plan, Pixar shareholders will exchange each of their shares for 2.3 shares of Disney stock.

The acquisition closed quickly after the vote. Regulators had previously signed off on the deal.

"As we begin the next chapter, all of us at Disney are pleased to welcome the incredibly talented Pixar team to our company to continue to create quality entertainment for audiences to enjoy around the world," Disney chief executive Robert Iger said in a statement.

As part of the deal, key Pixar figures will take executive positions at Disney's animation and theme parks units. Pixar will keep its brand name and continue to be headquartered in Emeryville, California, as part of an effort to preserve the creative culture that has fueled its success.

John Lasseter, who was Pixar's executive vice president, becomes chief creative officer of the animation studios and principal creative adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company's theme parks.

Lasseter began his career as a Disney animator and is the creative force behind Pixar's films. He will report directly to Iger.

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