At Toy Fair Dallas last week, one of the most frequent topics of conversation was collaboration and consolidation: essentially, mergers and acquisitions.
After a rumor that Jazwares would purchase Jakks Pacific — a deal that never went through — via Alleghany Capital Corp., the company has acquired Wicked Cool Toys. The deal left Jakks to sit a bit longer, though the company did acknowledge just days later that “another party” was expressing interest following a recapitalization transaction.
“As I have said, the recapitalization transaction allowed us to continue to pursue our business objectives with renewed vigor and resolve,” said Stephen Berman, CEO and co-founder of Jakks Pacific in a statement issued on Sept. 6. “We remain committed to executing our business plan in the months and years ahead. At the same time, however, the company is exploring the alternative transactions described in this announcement.”
Those “alternative transactions” are potential buyout offers.
The latest report is that Just Play is nearing a deal to purchase Jakks Pacific for 80-90 cents per share, with sources close to the deal telling Bloomberg that the situation remains fluid and that a final deal could still fail to materialize, though it seems to be close. Another source confirms the report with the Toy Book, noting that an investment firm is prepared to back the transaction, but it is not a done deal yet.
One of the biggest challenges in completing a sale for Jakks Pacific is said to be its licensing arrangements with partners such as Disney, among others. Beyond Jakks’ core toy businesses, the company operates Halloween costume maker Disguise Inc. as a separate division — one that also holds a multitude of licenses. In the event of a sale, licensors can often charge a fee for the transfer of a license. Despite challenges within Jakks, Disguise has been noted as a strong point for the company.
Jakks has been deemed a potential target for a takeover dating back several years to when the team that became Basic Fun! made a play for the company, at the time giving it a valuation nearing $20 per share.
As we move ahead through the fourth quarter and look toward Toy Fair New York, more toy industry consolidation seems likely.