Investors sceptical of Euro Disney's prospects

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Investors remained sceptical about the prospects for recovery at Euro Disney on Thursday despite the Disneyland Paris operator's eleventh-hour rescue deal with its leading creditors and shareholders.

Shares in Euro Disney jumped in early trading, reflecting relief that the French arm of the Magic Kingdom had narrowly avoided bankruptcy.

But they fell back later, closing up ?0.01 at ?0.33, as the tough challenges facing Europe's biggest tourist attraction started to sink in.

The rescue plan agreed on Monday night was welcomed by analysts as providing the company with badly needed breathing room to turn round its struggling operations.

Since opening a second theme park two years ago near Paris Walt Disney Studios it has been hit by a falling visitor numbers and rising losses. Last year it made a ?56m ($69m) loss and it has already warned this will widen in the year ending September 30.

Yet few analysts believe Euro Disney will be allowed to collapse. It has strong support from US media group Walt Disney, its biggest shareholder with 39 per cent, which is determined to prevent the embarrassing collapse of one of its brand's biggest overseas outposts.

Euro Disney can also count on the backing of the French government, its biggest creditor through state bank Caisse des D?p?ts et Consignations, which holds ?900m of its ?2.4bn debts. Since it opened about 20,000 jobs have been created, making it the Paris region's biggest employer.

But analysts warn that shareholders are unlikely to benefit, even if it makes a rapid recovery. The proceeds of any return to profitability will first go to repaying the deferred management fees and royalties owed to Walt Disney and to paying down its crippling debt pile.

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