Confronted with ongoing losses at its theme parks near Paris, Walt Disney Co.'s Euro Disney operation Thursday announced that it had replaced the resort's French chief executive with a company insider.
Euro Disney, which is 41% owned by the Burbank-based entertainment giant, said in a statement that Andre Lacroix, 45, had left "to pursue other opportunities." Disney said it replaced Lacroix with Karl Holz, 54, a former Walt Disney World executive and head of the Disney Cruise Line.
The move follows a record loss of nearly $190 million for Euro Disney in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Although results have since improved, the resort continues to lose money, recording a loss of $105 million for the six months ended March 31.
Investors' confidence in the business has been badly shaken. Shares of Euro Disney fell nearly 50% in the last year.
The resort has struggled for much of its 13 years, and now has its sixth CEO since opening. Financial woes mounted after a second theme park opened at Disneyland Paris in 2002 failed to draw expected crowds.
"Given the years of continuing struggles, they're trying to find the right mix of executives over there,'' said Richard Greenfield, a media industry analyst with Fulcrum Global Partners. "This doesn't surprise me at all."
A former Burger King International executive, Lacroix was tapped two years ago to turn around the business. But weak revenue and rising debts brought Euro Disney close to bankruptcy.
Lacroix instead presided over a yearlong financial restructuring that resulted in a deal with creditors to bail out the resort for the second time in a decade.
Among other things, the rescue plan allowed Euro Disney to defer royalty and management fees to Disney over the next decade and to issue new shares to raise money to build attractions.
Holz is a former Knott's Berry Farm executive who was hired by Disney nine years ago. A native of Germany, he joined Euro Disney in September 2004 as president and chief operating officer.