EuroDisney set to carry on investing

EURODISNEY has defended its decision to keep pouring cash into expanding its theme park business despite a £1.7bn debt pile.

Chief executive Philippe Gas said the group’s strategy of continuing to develop the parks near Paris was sensible despite rising losses.

EuroDisney has in the past been criticised for pressing ahead with its Studios Park in 2002, which is understood to have added to the group’s losses. Gas told a Sunday newspaper that the development of the second park was the right thing to do because Disneyland Paris was a long term business.

Gas said EuroDisney, which is 40 per cent owned by Disney, is committed to paying back a quarter of its debt by 2013.

It has also deferred royalty payments to Disney and has occasionally delayed debt payments to its biggest lender, Caisse des Depots et Consignations, although it had not breached banking covenants.

Gas said the group was considering developing a third theme park and had enough cash to pay its debt, to finance expansion and to pay for refurbishment of existing attractions.

He said the group was focusing more on employee relations and staff welfare after strikes last year.

The group is planning to build homes as part of the development of the Marne la Vallee area and to build a nature park and a studio complex.

Gas insisted the company was also focused on rewarding shareholders who have seen the value of their investments fall in the last few years.

The group is not currently paying a dividend to shareholders, but highlighted that the recession had not deterred visitors, with 15.4m coming last year.