* Disney theme park operator Shendi secures loan
* Disney announces China animation initiative
SHANGHAI, April 11 (Reuters) - The operator of the planned Shanghai Disney theme park has secured a 12.9 billion yuan ($2 billion) syndicated loan for the construction of the park, Chinese media reported on Wednesday, a boost for Walt Disney Co as it embarks on a newly announced animation venture in China.
Shanghai Securities News cited Shao Xiaoyun, a vice president of Shanghai Shendi Group, the Disney theme park operator, as saying the project will receive two syndicated loan amounts, the first of which is 12.9 billion yuan.
Other than the Disney theme park, the city also plans to develop a tourism zone around the theme park.
“The first and second syndicated loans will fulfill the funding needs of the Shanghai Disneyland project and the Shanghai International Tourism Zone,” Shao said.
The loan deal signed on Tuesday was under a framework agreed upon in May between Shendi Group and a consortium of 12 banks, led by China Development Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Bank of Communications , the Shanghai Daily reported.
Last month banking sources told Basis Point, a Thomson Reuters publication, Shendi Group was approaching banks to reserve more than 10 billion yuan of credit quotas for itself and an additional 900 million yuan in loans, after failing to raise a targeted 21 billion yuan in financing.
The Shanghai theme park is estimated to cost 24.5 billion yuan ($3.9 billion), with hotels and additional facilities costing 4.5 billion yuan ($713 million) more.
The investment amount will be split between media company Walt Disney Co and the Shendi Group, with Disney holding 43 percent of the shares of the owner companies and government-backed Shendi holding the remaining 57 percent.
Disney said on Tuesday it will work with China’s Ministry of Culture and Tencent Holdings to launch an initiative to promote the animation industry in China, train local talent and develop Chinese content and franchises to an international standard.
Disney will provide expertise in the areas of creative concept development, especially story writing, screening, story refining and market research, the firm said in a statement.
In February, Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc said it would build a production studio in Shanghai as part of a joint venture with some of China’s biggest media companies.
Similarly, Comcast Corp’s NBC Universal Studio is said to be in preliminary talks with Tianjin about a joint venture to build a theme park in the port city.
The influx of interest from Hollywood studios comes as China’s booming middle class start becoming avid theater patrons, forgoing the cheaper option of buying a pirated movie.
In February, China agreed to open its market to more American movies, permitting 14 premium format films, such as IMAX or 3D, to be exempt from the annual 20 foreign film quota.