New owner for Peanuts
Halifax-based DHX Media spends US$345M to buy Iconix
Charlie Brown and Strawberry Shortcake are set to join the Teletubbies, Inspector Gadget and Caillou at DHX Media under a US$345-million agreement announced Wednesday.
The Halifax-based children’s entertainment company said it plans to bring the brands into the digital streaming age as the deal adds hundreds of episodes of new content for its library and creates opportunities to expand them into new areas such as its WildBrain network on YouTube.
In a world where parents have near unlimited choices in what their children can watch, brands like Peanuts and Strawberry Shortcake stand out, DHX chief executive Dana Landry said.
“Even people who have never seen a Peanuts show know who Charlie Brown and Snoopy are,’’ he said in an interview. “Both Peanuts and Strawberry Shortcake are exactly the kind of powerhouse children’s and family properties we have been built to receive.’’
Under the agreement, DHX would acquire an 80 per cent controlling interest in Peanuts and 100 per cent of Strawberry Shortcake from Iconix Brand Group Inc.
The plan has the blessing of Charles M. Schulz’s widow, whose family would continue to have a 20 per cent share of the rights to the Peanuts cartoon and animation franchise.
“DHX Media feels like a perfect fit for Peanuts,’’ Jean Schulz said in a joint statement issued by the company.
Before the deal was announced, DHX Media was already producing, in conjunction with Iconix, a new animated series based on Strawberry Shortcake in a bid to inject new life to the brand.
“You do have to refresh content from time to time,’’ Landry said.
The proposed deal has been approved by the boards of DHX Media and Iconix Brand Group. It also requires various regulatory approvals and completion of a financing package.
DHX has hired RBC Capital Markets and Jefferies Finance to provide a fully underwritten debt financing covering the purchase price and refinance substantially all of the company’s debt.
Cartoonist Charles Schulz displays a sketch of his beloved character Snoopy in his office in Santa Rosa, Calif. in this 1997 photo. The Peanuts gang of cartoon characters created by Schulz is getting a new home at a Halifax-based entertainment company under a US$345-million deal announced Wednesday.