Disney reaches $100M settlement with animation workers over wage fixing

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For Disney, the move settles a beef between it and two of its “tentpole” acquisitions in Lucasfilm and Pixar, with the third being Marvel.

Disney has settled for $100 million with animation workers who were part of a larger lawsuit alleging wage fixing through the use of nonpoaching agreements.

According to Variety, the $100 million settlement covers Disney, Pixar and Lucasfilm. The Disney settlement comes after a $50 million settlement with DreamWorks Animation, $13 million with Sony Imageworks and $5.95 million with Blue Sky, already came out of the same legal action.

The plaintiffs traced back the nonpoaching agreements to George Lucas and Ed Catmull, the former president of the computer division at Lucasfilm. When Catmull, who is now president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, co-founded Pixar with Apple founder Steve Jobs in the ’80s, he set a nonpoaching agreement with Lucas. According to the report, the agreement covered things like cold calling and not raising offers to other company’s employees should the employee’s current company counter the offer.

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RELATED: Comcast pays $3.8B for DreamWorks Animation, puts 'Minions' mastermind in charge

The settlement comes amid a freshly altered competitive landscape for animated features. Last year, Comcast/NBCUniversal paid around $3.8 billion to acquire DreamWorks Animation, making the studio part of NBCU's Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango and NBCUniversal Brand Development.

For Disney, it settles a beef between it and two of its “tentpole” acquisitions in Lucasfilm and Pixar, with the third being Marvel.

Speaking last month at an investor conference, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy was asked if Disney has plans for any more “transformative” acquisitions in 2017.

“Nothing has changed about our M&A strategy,” McCarthy said.

In recent months, Disney has been tied to rumors of a possible tie-up with Netflix. But, in addition to Disney downplaying those rumors, Netflix has thrown cold water on the potential for a merger.

RELATED: Netflix exec worries a Disney merger would make it 'difficult to stay disciplined'

“I do think that there are some multicompany conflicts that emerge in those big companies that would make it difficult to stay as disciplined as we’ve done,” Netflix’s Ted Sarandos said during an appearance at the 44th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.


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