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Dis looks anew at Henson

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Phillip, Dec 20, 2002.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Dis looks anew at Henson
    Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter

    The Walt Disney Co. has taken a second look at acquiring the Jim Henson (news) Co. as Henson parent EM.TV moves to conclude the bidding process for the home of Kermit the Frog and other Muppet characters.

    There were mixed signals Thursday as to how aggressively Disney would pursue an acquisition. Sources close to the situation said Disney was preparing to make EM.TV a sizable offer, in the $130 million range. That would dwarf the dollar value of proposals fielded by other contenders for Henson, a list that includes billionaire Haim Saban and former Disney TV and UPN chief Dean Valentine (HR 12/9).

    Sources said Disney had not made a formal proposal but has been pushing EM.TV to commit to giving Disney an exclusive negotiating period on Henson. EM.TV, the troubled German media firm that acquired Henson in early 2000, needs to conclude a Henson sale in the near future to make a $65 million loan payment due early next year.

    EM.TV recently got a short extension on that payment, which had originally been due at the end of this month, but the company nonetheless is anxious to secure a cash influx from a Henson sale. EM.TV chief executive Werner Klatten and other company executives are in Southern California this week to meet with the various contenders for Henson.

    Other knowledge sources downplayed Disney's interest in Henson, suggesting that Disney executives had decided to take another look at Henson -- which has been on the block for more than a year -- as it became apparent that EM.TV was looking to wrap up a deal soon. Those sources said Disney had met with EM.TV executives recently but was not, as of Thursday, pursuing any additional talks. Disney reps declined comment on the matter.

    If a Disney-Henson deal were to come to pass, it would be a case of deja vu for both sides. In August 1989, Disney struck a deal to acquire the company, but the deal unraveled into a long legal battle after founder Jim Henson's unexpected death in May 1990.


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