Walt Disney, the American media conglomerate made famous for Mickey Mouse, has made a successful bid for Manchester United, Rant sources confirmed today. The huge £1.5 billion transaction, ending months of speculation about a potential Red Knights bid for the club, will complete in the next few weeks.
Documents leaked to Rant reveal details of the secret transaction between the Glazer family and The Walt Disney Company. The media company confirmed details of the bid in an exclusive interview given by the head of Disney Corporation in Asia-Pacific.
The APAC division will lead commercialisation of United’s brand in Asia, said sources.
“The Manchester United franchise has many synergies with Disney,” said Kim Cue Ye Som, managing director Disney APAC.
“For more than 80 years Disney has entertained families, thrilled audiences and created magic. Manchester United has done the same and we are delighted that to bring the magic of Disney to the Old Trafford bowl.
“The franchise’s 300 million fans love Wayne Rooney and they’ll love Mickey Mouse too.”
The mammoth bid includes United’s £504 million bond and represents a multi-million profit for the Glazer family, which acquired the club in a leveraged £790 million buyout in 2005.
Despite the outlay, Disney believes that it can generate millions in revenues from United’s global fan base, cross selling Disney merchandise and that of the world’s biggest sport brands, said Kim.
Disney generated more than $35 billion revenues in 2009, dwarfing profits at the highly indebted club. In recent months United’s supporters have mounted a highly publicised green and gold protest against the Glazer family’s ownership.
The American corporation will also bring new innovation from the motion picture business to sport such as new media distribution channels and 3D, said Kim.
“Disney is the world’s largest media corporation, with distribution rights for media in almost every country on the planet,” added Kim.
“We can bring compelling value to the club’s media proposition in markets that have been under-exploited by the former owners and the Premier League.
“Our animation studios at Pixar have become world leading experts in 3D media. For the first time in live sports we will bring football to the fans in 3D at the stadium. Never before at the Old Trafford bowl will football have been so realistic.”
Each fan attending matches will have a seat-back screen so they can be “closer than ever” to the action, added Kim.
United has ripped up its sponsorship deal with US risk management firm Aon following the buyout and Sir Alex Ferguson’s team will don the famous ears of Mickey Mouse on its shirts next season, an early-morning photocall confirmed.
Rumours that rival studio Dreamworks Pictures is preparing to sue Wayne Rooney for breach of copyright over the nickname “Shrek” could not be confirmed at time of publication.