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Disney Holiday Shopping? Increased focus on Acquisitions

disney M&AWhile consumers are thinking about gifts to buy for the holidays, Walt Disney Company is getting their shopping lists in order too. Looking to potentially heat things up in the acquisition market, Disney has organized several executives into a specialized Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) division.

The group, division, or whatever loose title its given, is not necessarily a formal restructuring. Disney’s looking to consolidate management tasks and improve strategic communication in anticipation’s of increased spending. It’s about efficiency. Day to day responsibilities for those involved may go largely unchanged.

First reported by Tech Crunch, and later confirmed by other sources, the group will be run by Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president of Corporate Development. It’s unclear if he’ll take a new title or adjust his current operational responsibilities.

With executives specifically organizing for M&A activity, the pace of deals is sure to increase.

New deals that will be considered will likely be small cash buyouts in the tens of million (or less) range of prices. Decision making for large scale buyouts like Disney’s prior purchase of tween gamer Club Penguin, will remain with the larger executive office. Stock deals are unlikely.

In scope, the new M&A focus is anticipated to aim heavily at consumer internet and gaming companies. Possible but less likely are deals that will serve broader interests across Disney’s consolidated properties from its TV networks/programming to even its theme parks.

The new group may also forge stronger ties with Disney’s affiliated venture capital group Steamboat Ventures. Should that happen, however, sources suggest it will be informal at best. Steamboat’s operations (and fund raising) will continue independently. Steamboat won’t be directly effected by the new M&A focus.

For Steamboat, the upside of the more highly prioritized M&A group is only the potential of increased exit opportunities for Steamboat funded companies. With a small scale buyout firm operating inside Disney, Steamboat’s role as incubator and pipeline to Disney acquisitions may increase.


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