Friday, April 19, 2024

Disney scraps $867m Florida plan amid Ron DeSantis feud

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The Walt Disney Company has scrapped a plan to invest nearly $1bn (£806m) to build a new corporate campus in Florida, it announced.

The reversal comes amid an escalating feud between the entertainment giant and the state’s Republican-led government headed by Ron DeSantis.

The plan would have seen about 2,000 employees relocate to a Disney-owned complex at Lake Nona, near Orlando.

Mr DeSantis’ office has called the announcement “unsurprising”.

The cancellation was announced in an internal email to employees on Thursday.

The email, seen by BBC News, said the company’s decision was the result of “considerable changes” that have taken place since it was first announced.

In the email, Josh D’Amaro, the head of Disney’s theme park division, also referred to “changing business conditions”.

While the email does not mention politics or Mr DeSantis, it has been interpreted as alluding to mounting tensions between Disney and Florida lawmakers.

“Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition,” Mr DeSantis’ office said in a statement.

“Given the company’s financial straits, falling market cap and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures.”

The internal Disney email noted that the decision to scrap the project comes after “new leadership” at the company, referring to ex-CEO Bob Chapek, whose sudden departure in November stunned Hollywood. (BBC)

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