Walt Disney Co is to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, the companies announced Monday, giving the family entertainment conglomerate a powerful squad of movie superheroes such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and The Fabulous Four.
In a statement, Disney chief executive Bob Iger said that "adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation."
"We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney."
Under the terms of the deal, Marvel shareholders will receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own.
In return, Disney will get the rights to over 5,000 Marvel characters, many of which have much stronger box office allure than Disney's traditional stable of characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The three Spider-Man movies alone have generated some $2.5 billion in worldwide box office receipts.
The acquisition reflects Disney's long-term strategy of adding to its cast of characters and talent as when it bought animation powerhouse Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006.
The Marvel deal also gives Disney a key brand for connecting with teenage boys, a market that has been overshadowed by the popularity of stars such as Hannah Montana with girls.
"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Marvel chief executive Ike Perlmutter.
"This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world," he added.