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Concern over HK Disney park

HONG Kong lawmakers say they would be unwilling to approve a plan to expand the city's Disneyland unless the government and Walt Disney Co tell them how the theme park has performed since it opened in 2005.

Walt Disney and Hong Kong last week agreed to expand their joint venture, Hong Kong Disneyland, at a cost of HK$3.5 billion (US$450 million), in the hope of boosting the park's fortunes. Hong Kong lawmakers must approve the expansion before construction can begin.

The entertainment giant will put up all the new capital to cover the construction and operation costs during the building phases. Hong Kong will not inject any new money but will convert a large portion of the loan it provided to Disney for the construction of the original park, to buy more shares in the venture.

Nevertheless, the city's total stake is expected to be diluted by the new expansion capital injected by Disney, from about 57 percent to 52 percent.

Scrutinizing the deal last Saturday, lawmakers said the Hong Kong executive had not disclosed the park's attendance figures or told them how well it had performed in the more than three years since it opened. They said they needed to see more details of the expansion before they could vote on Friday to approve or reject the plan.

"We have to decide whether to approve the commitment of this large sum as equity for the expansion of the park, but we have been given very little information. This is really depressing," pro-government lawmaker Starry Lee said.


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