April 9, 2009

Buyout clause casts shadow over theme park

Movie director Steven Spielberg's contract with Universal Orlando in Florida is lucrative enough to give financiers concern, Moody's Investors Services said.

In a note discussing Universal's recently downgraded debt rating, analysts from Moody's wrote, there may "¦ be financial incentive for Mr. Spielberg to wait, before opting out of his consulting contract with the company.

Universal, which has built several park attractions based on Spielberg's movies, paid the director $19.6 million in 2008 for his consulting work, the Orlando, Fla., Sentinel reported Thursday.

Universal Orlando is facing an April 1, 2010, deadline for refinancing of about $1 billion in debt. Next year is also when Spielberg can begin to exercise his buyout option, the newspaper said.

Both Universal Orlando and Spielberg recently declined to comment about the director's buyout option.