Iconix Brands, owner of consumer brands such as Joe Boxer, Rocawear and Mossimo, announced today that it had bought lovable comic characters Charlie Brown, Lucy, Peppermint Patty and the rest of the “Peanuts” cast from United Features Syndicate and E.W. Scripps. The deal values “Peanuts” at $175 million.
As part of the arrangement, Iconix also got the licensing and character representation business of United Media Licensing, garnering it the right to represent beleaguered cubicle worker Dilbert and children’s book protagonist Fancy Nancy.
According to Iconix, Charlie Brown is big business: “The Peanuts brand is licensed in over 40 countries and generates annual retail sales of over $2 billion.”
Cathy Shultz, wife of late “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz, said in a statement, “Neil [Cole, Iconix CEO] and his team have great respect for who the Peanuts characters are and they honor all we have accomplished, and the spirit with which we do business.” The Schultz family is paying for 20% of the Peanuts brand, while Iconix pays for the remaining 80%.
Press release after the jump.
NEW YORK, April 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Iconix Brand Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ICON) (“Iconix” or the “Company”), today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement with United Features Syndicate, Inc. (“UFS”) and The E.W. Scripps Company (“Scripps”) to acquire the Peanuts brand and related assets in partnership with the Schulz family. As part of the transaction, Iconix will also acquire the licensing and character representation business of United Media Licensing, a division of UFS, which, in addition to Peanuts, represents a number of character brands, including Dilbert and Fancy Nancy. The Peanuts brand and other acquired assets will be purchased through a newly formed subsidiary, which will be owned 80% by Iconix and 20% by the Schulz family.
The cast of Peanuts, includes, among others, iconic and well known characters such as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty and Woodstock. Peanuts has a strong diversified global licensing platform with over 1,200 licensing agreements including relationships with MetLife, Hallmark, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., Cedar Fair, H&M, Benetton, Old Navy, CVS and Walgreens. The Peanuts brand is licensed in over 40 countries and generates annual retail sales of over $2 billion.
“We are excited to embark on this transformative deal for our Company,” stated Neil Cole, Chairman and CEO of Iconix Brand Group, Inc. Cole added, “The Peanuts brand is iconic, with some of the most beloved and well known characters in history. Peanuts is considered one of the most influential comic strips of all time and with its 60th anniversary this year the characters continue to be as popular as ever. Owning the Peanuts business moves Iconix well beyond fashion into a true global brand management entity with a wide variety of agreements that range from theme parks to media to financial institutions. It also extends our international platform with Peanuts licensed in over 40 countries and approximately two-thirds of its revenue coming from outside of the U.S. After closing this transaction, Iconix will be diversified with fashion only representing approximately two-thirds of our revenue. Further, we believe Peanuts large global footprint and broad licensing relationships will also open up new doors for our existing portfolio of brands and future acquisitions. We are equally excited to have the Schulz family as our partners and believe their passion and insight will be invaluable to the future success of the Peanuts brand.”
Jean Schulz, wife of the late Charles M. Schulz, commented, “We are grateful and proud of the active partnership we have had with United Media for the past 60 years. From the beginning, my husband worked directly with the people using his art to preserve the authenticity of his characters. Since his death, we have continued to do the same, working directly with our licensees to be true to my husband’s art.” She added, “As we look to the future, it is a joy to partner with a company whose founder is at the helm. Neil and his team have great respect for who the Peanuts characters are and they honor all we have accomplished, and the spirit with which we do business.”
Craig Schulz, son of Charles M. Schulz, stated, “The Schulz family is extremely excited by the opportunity to create this partnership with Neil Cole and Iconix. Peanuts now has the best of both worlds, family ownership and the vision and resources of Iconix to perpetuate what my father created throughout the next century with all the goodwill his lovable characters bring.”
The total purchase price for this acquisition is approximately $175 million of which Iconix will pay for its 80% share and the Schulz family will pay for its 20% share. Iconix portion will be funded from the Company’s existing cash balance.
On a pro-forma basis the Company expects Peanuts to generate approximately $75 million in annual royalty revenue and add approximately $0.12-$0.15 in annual EPS. Different from a typical Iconix acquisition, the costs associated with the Peanuts business will be higher than the Company’s existing brands as there is an existing contractual revenue share with the Schulz heirs, which is separate from the family’s 20% interest in the new partnership. There are also agent commissions and additional administrative costs associated with managing over 1,200 contracts around the world. Initially, EBITDA margins for this business are expected to be in a range of approximately 20%-25%. In 2010, the accretion will be impacted by deal costs and will depend on the timing of the close.