New owner for Peanuts

Hal­i­fax-based DHX Me­dia spends US$345M to buy Iconix

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton/Atlantic Business -

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.

CP PHOTO

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.

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