China's 'big world' good for Disney as child policy eased

China's 'big world' good for Disney as child policy eased

SHANGHAI - Walt Disney chief Robert Iger said Friday that China scrapping its one-child policy was "good timing" as the US entertainment giant prepares to open a theme park in the commercial hub Shanghai.

China announced the end of its controversial family planning policy at the close of a meeting of the ruling Communist Party on Thursday, with a communique saying all couples will be allowed two children.

"It was good timing... Obviously kids are good for Disney," Iger told a conference in Shanghai, to audience laughter.

The Walt Disney Co. and Chinese partner Shanghai Shendi Group broke ground on the $5.5 billion park in April 2011. The opening was originally planned for this year, but Disney has pushed it back to 2016.

Ahead of the launch, Disney has opened a store in Shanghai and tied up with Japan's Fast Retailing to offer a line of clothing through its Uniqlo flagship store in the city.

But Disney, whose businesses range from movies to merchandise, believes China has strong potential regardless of the family planning rules, Iger said.

"China is a good market, policy change or not," he said. "Yes, we love kids of course, but we love everybody."

Stock investors cheered the news, pushing up listed Chinese companies which offer products for children.

Beingmate Baby and Child Food surged by its 10 per cent daily limit by midday on the Shenzhen market, despite previously reporting a first-half net loss of more than 100 million yuan ($16 million).

Nappy provider C&S Paper also surged 10 per cent in Shenzhen while Bright Dairy and Food gained 5.23 per cent in Shanghai.

But one analyst warned the speculative gains might be short-lived.

"The market has speculated on the baby concept for years, but how this policy (change) will actually affect companies is still unclear," Zhang Qi, an analyst from Haitong Securities, told AFP.

"The easing of the one child policy might not have such a big effect on the birth rate as it's difficult to reverse the current population structure," he said.

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