Snoopy moves in with the Teletubbies at DHX Media

80 per cent stake in the Peanuts brand will be bought by DHX Media.
80 per cent stake in the Peanuts brand will be bought by DHX Media.PHOTO: SNOOPY PLACE

CANADA (REUTERS) - DHX Media Ltd is buying the entertainment unit of Iconix Brand Group Inc for US$345 million (S$486 million), adding the Peanuts comic strip and cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake to its roster of brands that includes Bob the Builder andTeletubbies.

Reuters reported in January that Iconix was exploring a sale of its majority stake in Peanuts Worldwide LLC, which owns the rights to cartoon strip characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Debt-ridden Iconix started exploring a sale of the brand after US insurer MetLife Inc dropped the Peanuts characters it had been using as mascots for more than 30 years.

The characters - which also include Lucy, Linus and Woodstock, were created by Charles Schulz and are licensed in over 100 countries.

DHX Media will be buying an 80 per cent stake in the Peanuts brand. The remaining 20 per cent will continue to be held by members of the family of Schulz, DHX said on Wednesday (May 10).

While MetLife stopped flying blimps featuring Snoopy this year, Peanuts has agreements with brands such as stationery company Hallmark Cards Inc, retailer Zara, theme park Universal Studios Japan and film studio Warner Bros, according to a filing by Iconix.

In 2015, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc released "The Peanuts Movie", which was nominated for a Golden Globe award and grossed US$246 million worldwide (S$356 million), according to Box Office Mojo, a website that tracks the revenue that movies generate.

Iconix was also looking to sell its Strawberry Shortcake brand, which is based on a character that rose to fame in the 1980s as a doll for young girls, Reuters reported in January.

Strawberry Shortcake, bought by Iconix in 2015, has over 350 licenses, while its app has more than 86 million downloads on Apple Inc's App Store and about three million daily users.

DHX had entered into a long-term agreement last year to co-develop and co-produce a new animated series based on Strawberry Shortcake.

Wednesday's deal value will be financed through a combination of cash on hand, new debt financing facility and a private placement offering of subscription receipts exchangeable for convertible debentures, DHX said.

DHX Media said the deal would be 6 per cent to 10 per cent accretive to earnings per share, on a pro forma basis.

The company said it also expects to realise annual cost synergies of C$5 million (S$5 million) within the first year post-closing and C$25 million within the first five years.