By Stacy Cowley
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – The Walt Disney Company agreed Tuesday to buy Lucasfilm in a stock-and-cash deal valued at $4 billion.
The deal will make Lucasfilm owner George Lucas a significant shareholder in Disney, which will pay for the film company with $2 billion cash and around 40 million shares of its stock.
The takeover will give Disney control of Lucasfilm’s blockbuster Star Wars franchise, which encompasses both filmed productions and a massive merchandising operation. Disney will also absorb Lucasfilm’s special-effects production business, Industrial Light and Magic.
“It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers,” George Lucas said in a written statement. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Lucasfilm employees will remain based at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.
Lucas said he will continue to work as a creative consultant on Star Wars Episode 7, which is targeted for release in 2015.
Executives from Disney and Lucasfilm plan to provide more details on the deal during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.