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Billionaire Saban in Talks to Buy Muppet Makers

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Phillip, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Billionaire Saban in Talks to Buy Muppet Makers
    Courtesy of Yahoo News

    Billionaire investor Haim Saban is in talks to buy Muppet-maker Jim Henson (news) Co., at a steep discount to what Germany's EM.TV & Merchandising AG paid for it, people close to the situation said on Tuesday.

    The two sides are still haggling over the price, but it is broadly in the vicinity of about $100 million, these people added. EM.TV paid $680 million for Henson in February 2000.

    There may be other suitors for the makers of Miss Piggy and the Cookie Monster, the sources said, but the EM.TV unit has been on the block for more than a year.

    Spokespeople for Munich-based EM.TV and Saban declined to comment.

    Saban, who made his fortune with children's figures the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, has savvy bargaining power on his side. Nancy Schultz, who served as Henson's chief financial officer for a short time, and who also advised Henson when she was with PricewaterhouseCoopers, now works for Saban Capital Group Inc.

    Jim Henson produces movies, such as "Muppets in Space," and its world-famous creature shop makes well-known puppets and creates special effects. It won an Oscar for the special effects in the film "Babe."

    EM.TV, which has been trying to raise money by unloading non-core assets, last year sold Henson's stake in Crown Media Holdings for about $100 million. Sesame Workshop also bought the Sesame Street Muppets characters from Henson last year.

    Saban, who is also bidding for insolvent German media group KirchMedia, made about $1.5 billion last year when he and partner News Corp. sold cable network Fox Family Worldwide to Disney for $3 billion.

  2. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Here's another article...

    EMTV in talks to sell The Muppets
    By Tim Burt in London and Thomas Clark in Hamburg

    EMTV, the German media group that was one of the largest casualties of the Neur Markt, is in talks to sell its rights to The Muppets, the children's cult TV show.

    Haim Saban, the US entertainment entrepreneur and chairman of Saban Capital Group, is understood to have made an offer worth about $65m for the Jim Henson company, including The Muppets and other animation businesses.

    EMTV, struggling with a mountain of debt, put the business up for sale after incurring mounting losses in the past two years. It paid EU670m ($655.3m) for the Jim Henson company in March 2000.

    Werner Klatten, EMTV chief executive, said: "We are very close to a deal. Mr Saban is taking part in the race but we are also negotiating with two other parties."

    Mr Saban, who previously owned the rights to the Power Rangers TV show and merchandise, was unavailable for comment. Those assets were later sold to Walt Disney as part of its $5.2bn acquisition of the Fox Family network.

    Industry analysts suggested that Walt Disney, which made a takeover offer for the Jim Henson company in 1989, and Warner Brothers, part of AOL Time Warner, might be interested in the business.

    It is understood that the animation business could be sold for less than $100m, in spite of earlier hopes at EMTV that it could fetch more than $200m.

    The German company is anxious to conclude a deal before the end of the year, when it is due to repay a EU65m loan.

    People familiar with the negotiations said that Thomas Haffa, founder and former chief executive of EMTV, has played a role in brokering a potential deal with Mr Saban.

    Mr Haffa resigned in September 2000, paving the way for a radical restructuring plan by Mr Klatten, who acquired a 24.8 per cent stake in the company earlier this year.

    The negotiations are believed to have no bearing on EMTV's separate holding 16.7 per cent holding in SLEC, the trust that owns the rights to Formula One motor racing.

    The future of that holding was thrown into doubt by the collapse of the Kirch media empire in Germany. The Kirch group previously controlled 58 per cent of SLEC, which is now held by three creditor banks. The decision by Kirch and EMTV to invest more than $2bn in F1 two years ago contributed directly to the financial crises at both companies.

  3. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Here's some bio info on Haim Saban. Some of it may be outdated...

    Haim Saban is Chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Group, a private and public equity investment company. He is founder of Saban Entertainment and Fox Family Worldwide. Mr. Saban is a recognized leader in the entertainment industry having also built a chain of recording studios and becoming the top supplier of music for television. Mr. Saban was born in Alexandria, Egypt and moved to Israel as a child. He is a financial donor and founder of the Saban Institute for the Study of the American Political System at the University of Tel Aviv. He has contributed to many educational organizations, including The Fulfillment Fund and Partners in Education, which are college and career counseling and mentoring initiatives. He is also a supporter of The Story Project, an after school literacy program in downtown Los Angeles. He is a board member of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Campaign Against Youth Violence, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

    Here's another from March 5, 2001...

    Haim Saban is half-owner of Fox Family Worldwide, a company that produces and broadcasts programming via the Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids' Network. His own company, Saban Entertainment, is best known for producing the children's show "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." Saban is a long-time financial supporter of the Democratic Party, as is his wife Cheryl, who is a writer and producer for Fox Family Worldwide.

    Children's programming drew political fire during the last election, sparked by the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Last Setember, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report concluding that broadcasters were targeting violent content to kids, and Al Gore pledged to regulate children's programming unless the industry policed itself. Fox Broadcasting, which has been negotiating to buy out Saban's share of Fox Family Worldwide, joined several companies in agreeing to stop marketing adult-rated movies during TV shows aimed at young viewers.

    The month the report was released, Saban co-hosted a $3.5 million fundraiser for the Democrats with producer-director Rob Reiner (No. 371, $161,300), Warner Brothers President Alan Horn (No. 139, $290,750), and grocery magnate Ron Burkle (No. 102, $330,000). George W. Bush blasted his opponent for accepting contributions from an industry he had criticized; Gore insisted he was willing to take a stand against his financial supporters.

    Saban's generosity did not go unrewarded. During the Clinton administration, the entertainment executive served on the President's Export Council, advising the White House on trade issues. He also took an unusual pride in being a top contributor. When Saban learned that another donor had topped his contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by a quarter-million dollars, he immediately sent the DCCC a check for $250,000, with a $1 bill attached to it.

    "I hope this guy doesn't find out," Saban told The Washington Post. "He may send another two dollars."
  4. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Photos of Haim Sabam are on the front of the site and in the archived news article posted above. His biography is also now archived on Muppet Central as well.
  5. towels

    towels Well-Known Member

    okay, obviously the MMPR were a bad, bad thing, and the fact there's still a version on the air tells me they'll milk something for all it's worth, but are there other opinions or expiriences from the industry-ites on here? (Luke?)
  6. Bean Bunny

    Bean Bunny Well-Known Member

    ppplease dont' let Mr. Saban get the Muppets. Can you say the brand new Captain Kangaroo and Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. Saban also respondable for bad cartoons like Wator Melon. Know I going to have nightmare about Kermit saying "It's Morphing and Power Up". Here an idea for Mr.Saban, the 5 of the Muppets, Kermit, Piggy, Gozo, Fozzie, and Animal unite together into a one mightly robot loved by good, feared by evil. Muppetron defenders of the universe.

    Better yet the Muppets will now be called Muppetmons. Kermit digievovle to Mega-Kermit-The Frogmon. Piggy digevolve to Warrior-Pigmon. Gonzo digievovle to Rupert Merdock. Fozzie digievovle to Carrot Topmon.
  7. Struble

    Struble Well-Known Member

    That'd be nifty. I'm a big fan of an old cartoon Kidd Video that was a Saban/Levy production.

    From my video to my radio,
  8. crazy ernie

    crazy ernie Well-Known Member

    my rsponse to this: Oh dear lord no!
  9. GWGumby

    GWGumby Well-Known Member

    As long as they're fighting crime while teaching us valuable life lessons at the same time it will definitely be a hit.

    Muppets HO!!!
  10. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Maybe this will get Disney to perk up again. I know they are having troubles now, but I think buying the Muppets at a good price will help Eisner save face, especially now! We know they are the ones who really want them.

    I have had issues with Disney before, but the Muppets are an American industry (with some UK connections, of course). I hope we keep them in the United States. With Disney, the Muppets will live on forever.

    Either way, be looking for Kermit Krunch cereal down the line somewhere!
  11. EmmyMik

    EmmyMik Well-Known Member

    It's Muppet time!

    Go go Muppet Rangers!

    (I used to love the Power Rangers. The Red Ranger was so hunky)

  12. MuppetVision3D

    MuppetVision3D Well-Known Member

    Kermit Krunch sounds like a good way to start the morning off to me. (I hope it has a shiny foil box like Mickey's Magix.)
  13. jeremyactor

    jeremyactor Well-Known Member

    I agree with earlier sentiments from this thread - I don't want The Muppets milked for all they're worth. What they need is someone who'll simply buy them and leave them alone. Let's all pool our money together - I've got $10!

    I hope Disney buys them - Jim was going to sell to them after all, and I think that of all the potential buyers Disney is the best. Except for us - we've got $10 - now we just need $199,999,990 more!

  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    My response to a Saban Buyout....

    NOOO!!! NO!!! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!


    huff puff... man do I feel better:D
  15. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Yeah sure Jeremy, what idiot is going to hand over 100 million dollars and then have nothing to do with where it goes ? If you know someone please let me know and they can guess the weight of my Penguin.

    As for Saban, hmm not sure - i'm thinking bout that one. I think people are over-reacting a little and Jamie is probably on the right track but then again, the rumors that have been doing the rounds over the last few months could mean this is a little more serious.
  16. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Serious... like a heart attack! Serious... like cancer! Serious... like death!!!!!!!

    I'm not over reacting! Missing 30 minutes of class, complaining in large bold face type, in my opinion is UNDERREACTING!!!! You should see what I'll do for Over reacting!
  17. Bean Bunny

    Bean Bunny Well-Known Member

    One positvie out of this if it happens is that Saban currently has no major stars or properities since they sold most of them to Disney through the Fox Family deal last year. Saban get the Muppets and Disney get Power Rangers and Digimon as well as the Marvel animated libirary.
  18. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Heh, for the first time I can sit back and have a good laugh at *other* people over reacting. BElieve me, if some of ya were more privvy to insider stuff you wouldnt have your panties in a bunch;)

    >>>I agree with earlier sentiments from this thread - I don't want The Muppets milked for all they're worth. What they need is someone who'll simply buy them and leave them alone. <<<

    To leave them alone? Wasnt that the doomsday scenario Luke spelled out in that one thread?

    Anyways, from $300 million down to $65 million...thats quite a steal for 50 years of legacy and a endless millennium more.

    Hey, I wonder if the new Fox Muppet Show will be 'Saban'd a fied?(see every single live action Saban show)

    Anyways, my initial reaction when I saw this headline today was a slight chuckle. I just knew people would overeact, hehe
  19. Bean Bunny

    Bean Bunny Well-Known Member

    Where is Michael Eisner, when you need him?
  20. BigSPEEGS

    BigSPEEGS Well-Known Member

    Seriously, I think Disney would be the best. Gotta trust Jim's judgement on this one, folks.

    BTW, I know people have serious objections to Disney, I'm just not quite sure what. Could people enlighten me or give me some links so I'm not in the dark anymore?


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