In Playboy bidding war, owner of Penthouse tops Hefner offer
FriendFinder Networks Inc., the owner of the Penthouse adult entertainment franchise, has made a proposal to acquire rival Playboy Enterprises Inc. in a deal that FriendFinder valued at $210 million. The move counters a bid made this week by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to take private the company he founded in 1953 in a deal that would value Playboy at $185 million, or $5.50 a share.
In a letter to Playboy’s board of directors, FriendFinder CEO Marc Bell didn’t provide any specifics about his proposal but made it clear he wanted to work with Hefner, not against him. Bell didn’t say so explicitly, but his aim apparently would be to dislodge the partner Hefner already has: private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management LLC, which Hefner said is arranging the financing for his offer to buy the Playboy shares he doesn’t already own.
“It really comes down to what Hefner wants,” Bell said. “He can cash out, or he can stay. We would love him to stay.”