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Jan 31, 2017
By WGSN Insider
Iconix is looking to sell its majority stake in Peanuts Worldwide LLC, the owner of the Snoopy and Charlie Brown characters, sources told Reuters.
Despite the global fame of the characters and the financial and critical success of The Peanuts Movie in 2015, not everything in the garden is rosy. The move to explore a sale comes three months after US insurance company MetLife Inc dropped the Peanuts characters it had been using as mascots for more than 30 years, which Reuters said was a blow to debt-burdened Iconix.
The company has around $1.29bn in debt and last year sold Sharper Image for $100bn to help reduce it. It is also believed that it wants to sell another key character, Strawberry Shortcake, which it acquired for $105m two years ago, and is working with investment bank Guggenheim Partners LLC on an auction process for both it and Peanuts.
Sources said that there has been plenty of interest in the US media and licensing assets with Chinese companies in particular likely to figure in any auction. The Peanuts franchise is huge in Asia with Japan currently its largest international market.
The brand started as a comic strip created by Charles Schulz in 1950 and has grown into a global product and media franchise that is licensed in over 100 countries. It brings in pre-tax earnings of around $30m a month.
Iconix acquired an 80% stake in Peanuts for around $175m in 2010. The remaining stake is owned by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.
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