MediaFile

Disney’s dodgy boyfriend problem

Psst! Wanna buy a cheap stock?

For the second time in just over a year another boyfriend of a Disney staffer has been accused of insider trading.

Yesterday, hedge fund manager Toby G Scammell (seriously, that’s his name, you couldn’t make this stuff up) was sued by Federal regulators who alleged he used secret information obtained from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off the Walt Disney Co’s $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment in 2009.

Scammell’s girlfriend of two years was an intern in Disney’s corporate strategy department and worked for six months on the deal.

Last year an executive assistant to Disney’s corporate communications head Zenia Mucha  got caught up in a similar pile of insider mess. Bonnie Hoxie and her  boyfriend Yonni Sebbag were sentenced earlier this year after sending emails and form letters to some 33 investment firms offering to sell inside information from Disney’s quarterly earnings and tips about plans to sell its ABC TV network to private equity firms.

Disney, known for its buttoned-down, loyalty-first corporate culture particularly under Bob Iger, might want to start researching staffers’ relationship status more deeply during the recruitment process.

Disney hikes theme park prices — necessity or confidence?

Magic, Disney’s way, just got a little more expensive, as it does every year around this time when Walt Disney World raises its admissions prices.******WIth its prices generally tracking the national economic exuberance or lack thereof, the fact that Disney raised prices this week for, among other things, its “Magic Your Way” multi-day tickets, appears to reflect expectations for some recovery at least in consumer spending somewhere on the horizon.******With the recession still weighing on family vacations, Disney hiked the resort’s most popular multi-day passes by a relatively gentle 2.5 percent to 5.3 percent this week, compared with a rise of more than 16 percent in the boom year of 2006, according to data compiled by Pali Capital analyst Rich Greenfield.******This price hike, whatever its size, may simply be aimed at mitigating a 7 percent lag in hotel bookings at its domestic parks in the current quarter, as well as margin-gouging discounts at its Walt Disney World hotels, which boosted attendance but saw revenue drop by 9 percent last quarter.******Disney CEO Bob Iger himself expressed a glimmer of optimism on a conference call to analysts  last week, saying he say signs of ”economic stabilization”, but would not commit to ending the hotel discounts that have been propping up park attendance since last year’s market crash.******A spokesman for Disney Parks and Resorts said the price increases resulted from the company’s “continuous monitoring” of park prices relative to other forms of entertainment like football games, skiiing or concerts – and by that calculus, a park visit, at $79 for a one-day, one-park adult ticket was still “great value for the money.”******So if having fun is getting pricier again, that’s a good thing. Right?

Comcast CEO Roberts makes the Top 15 on pay

While we were at The Cable Show last week, Comcast filed a documents with securities regulators detailing its 2008 executive compensation. The filing showed that Chief Executive Brian Roberts received $23.7 million in 2008 up from $20.8 million in 2007 but below his 2006 payout of $26 million.

Roberts, as the AP points out, has long been criticized by shareholders for the size of his pay package. His increase comes after Comcast shares fell some 7.6 percent in the calendar year 2008, but this outperformed most of the major market indexes, which fell between 30 to 45 percent last year.

In February Roberts and other executives agreed to forgo a pay rise in 2009 and cut back on personal benefits, including a previous agreement which had guaranteed the payment of his base salary and cash bonus to his heirs for up to five years after his death — a so called ‘golden coffin’ package.