Disney foregoes $867 million In the midst of the Florida plan rift between Ron DeSantis
The Walt Disney Company announced the cancellation of a proposal to invest over $1 billion (£806 million) in a new corporate campus in Florida.
The decision comes amid an escalating rivalry between the entertainment mogul and the state’s Republican-led administration, which is led by Ron DeSantis.
Approximately 2,000 employees would have been relocated to a Disney-owned property in Lake Nona, near Orlando.
The announcement was described as “unsurprising” by Mr. DeSantis’ office.
On Thursday, the cancellation was revealed in an internal email to employees.
The email, obtained by BBC News, stated that the company’s decision was the consequence of “considerable changes” that had occurred since the announcement.
Josh D’Amaro, the head of Disney’s theme park division, also mentioned “changing business conditions” in the email.
While the email makes no mention of politics or Mr. DeSantis, it has been construed as a reference to growing tensions between Disney and Florida legislators.
“Nearly two years ago, Disney announced the idea of a Lake Nona campus. Nothing came of the proposal, and the state was unsure whether it would be realized,” Mr DeSantis’ office said in a statement.
“Given the company’s financial straits, declining market cap, and falling stock price, it’s unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures.”
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The internal Disney email stated that the project was canceled due to “new leadership” at the firm, referring to ex-CEO Bob Chapek, whose abrupt resignation in November startled Hollywood.
The unbuilt Lake Nona campus would have provided a new home for staff from the firm’s clandestine theme park research and development branch, known as Imagineers, who were invited to relocate from California to Florida.
According to Mr D’Amaro’s email, relocation is no longer necessary, and the company will discuss next measures with individuals who have already relocated.
Many of the occupations slated for relocation to Florida were higher-paying, white-collar, and tech-focused professions.
According to the Orlando Business Journal, the project is worth approximately $867 million, and the average yearly salary for the workers is $120,000.
Bob Iger, the former CEO who returned to replace his successor, Mr Chapek, has promised major reforms to enhance the company’s profitability, which has been under pressure as the traditional film and television sectors dwindle.
Disney debuted a streaming service, Disney+, in 2019, but it is still losing money.
Unlike other media organizations, Disney has been protected by the success of its amusement parks, which have kept the company profitable.
However, its share price has half since high in March 2021, as investors anticipate a difficult road ahead.
Earlier this year, Mr. Iger proposed a $5.5 billion savings plan that included a massive reorganization of the company’s operations and the elimination of almost 7,000 jobs.