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EM.TV to sell 49.9% of Henson to Dean Valentine

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Phillip, Dec 24, 2002.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    U.S. Group to Buy Stake in Muppets
    Courtesy of Yahoo News

    German media company EM.TV said Tuesday it has signed a letter of intent to sell a U.S. investor group a 49.9 percent stake in the Jim Henson Co., creator of Kermit the Frog and the Muppets.

    EM.TV, which bought the Jim Henson Co. and rights to the Muppets in February 2000 for $680 million in cash and stock, said it expected a final agreement next month on the sale of the stake to the group, led by former UPN president Dean Valentine and investment company Europlay Capital Advisors.

    EM.TV has not publicly named a price, and declined to comment Tuesday on the value of the deal.

    The German company said that following the sale Valentine, who stepped down earlier this year as head of UPN, would be in charge of operations at the Los Angeles-based Jim Henson Co.

    Valentine's management team also includes Mort Marcus, formerly chairman of Miramax Television and Video, and Nick Van Dyk, former executive vice president of Artisan Entertainment.

    "We are committed to continuing the legacy of creativity, humor and humanity that marked everything Jim Henson touched," Valentine said in a statement. "At the same time we feel there is enormous potential for growth, not merely from Kermit and the Muppets, but from the expansion of the Henson brand into all areas of family entertainment."

    Werner Klatten, EM.TV's chief executive, stressed that his firm "will remain as the majority owner of the Jim Henson Co. and will continue to have an important presence in the U.S. market." EM.TV will remain the company's international distributor.

    EM.TV was founded in 1989 and became a star of Germany's tech-heavy Neuer Markt. But dramatic moves such as buying the Jim Henson Co. — and, one month later, half of Formula One motor racing — proved flawed, piling up debt and leading to a loss of 2.8 billion marks (now US$1.4 billion) in 2000.

    Munich-based EM.TV's stock hit a peak of 109.59 euros in February 2000. It closed Monday at 87 euro cents (US$0.89) on the Frankfurt exchange.

    In May last year, EM.TV said it was considering selling the Jim Henson Co.

    Aside from being financially strapped, the company said at the time it was also finding it too difficult to manage the Jim Henson Co.'s production studios in the United States from its headquarters in Germany.

    EM.TV said Tuesday that the sale of a minority stake would allow it to finish paying back a loan that financed the acquisition of its stake in Junior TV, a joint venture with the now-bankrupt KirchMedia.

  2. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    But but, but but but but but but, didn't, but hey, but but, what the ****, but wait, how...WHAT?!

    NO!!! NO NO NO. But, freak, no, but, no.

    Huh, I'll ***** about it later.

    Merry bleepin' Christmas.
  3. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Those idiot creeps should have thought about that BEFORE jumping in and buying the company, so NOW nearly 50% of the JHC is owned by some idiot out there and the other half by EM.TV??

  4. EmmyMik

    EmmyMik Well-Known Member

    There were a whole lot of words in that article, and I didn't understand them.

    I still stand by my "Press Release in 10 Words or Less" rule...
  5. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    It's funny. Here was I early this morning looking at several Disney-Henson articles, two from which I just found at hoovers.com, while at the same time, looking at video clips from Henson.com. A few hours later, I'm back on the computer, and on the TV, the NBC Christmas movie and Farscape are on. And in front of my face are "Jim Henson: The Works" and "Disney: The Ultimate Visual Guide." Then, suddenly, this load of CRAP happens!!!!

    Funny, I'm not as p*ssed as I thought I would be. Just very very very, well yeah p*ssed, but not cussing out angry. Just muttered "but" about a hundred times.

    Hmm, wow an EM.TV-Dean Valentine-Europlay company. Impressive. Woo, much better than Disney.

    OK, now I'm just being snotty. Laterz!
  6. Stryder Wolfe

    Stryder Wolfe Well-Known Member

    so what exactly does this change? Em.TV is still the majority holder, but now there's a partnership thing? Can someone in the know sort of list some potential ramifications or something?
  7. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    And, yeah, I know this news is about an hour long and it's Christmas Eve and this is my third message already, but, well, what about Rivkin???
  8. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    250,000 fans at $600 each could afford $150million and we could OWN JHC and let it be run the way it SHOULD be run.

    Rivkin told me at MF that if a sale of JHC went through, whoever got it would be a company that would allow JHC freedom and say-so over what the projects were. I'm somehow feeling that won't be happening.

    EM.TV should be burned down. JHC should belong to JHC.

    Now, I'm ready to smack Brian Henson in the back of the head with my rubber chicken again!
  9. Struble

    Struble Well-Known Member

    Could someone explain why everybody is complaining? I don't see what's so wrong with someone INVESTING in JHC, so that there is an influx of dollars, thus keeping them away from bankruptcy. So, someone explain why everyone is angry, as I don't see it.

  10. pezbalubah

    pezbalubah Well-Known Member

    Well this could be good news, this could be bad news, or maybe it won't change anything. We'll just have to wait and see. Although whatever they do now, good or bad will probably be credited to this sale. The comments from Valentine seemed positive.
  11. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    LMAO - told ya it wasn't going to be Disney didn't i ? huh huh - and you guys thought i was just the manically insane guy who has the penguin gimmick *evil laugh* :D

    Seriously, it's not a bad outcome - not the greatest, not the worst and certainly changes won't be as dramatic as if someone like Disney had the Muppets. However, signing a 'letter of intent' is not the end of this sale - it just means EMTV has said 'yeah we itend to sign the sale contract with Valentine', it's a pretty strong indication of what probably will happen but contracts get broken, backers drop out at the last minute, dramatic things can happen and so on. You'll probably find that Valentine now to have to do all the financing stuff in order to complete the contract. At a guess you're probably looking somewhere towards the low end of 40-48 million.

    As i said, not a bad deal for both the Muppets & fans. This means that a lot of staff at Henson are safe, as are the facilities unless Valentine goes on some economising drive but i doubt that. While EMTV will have the money to pay their debt, still have the REAL controlling interest in the company and do what they always really wanted to do, just distribute the european shows, it also means that they'll leave the day to day running of the company to actual real television people who've been at the top of their game and will (hopefully) know what they're doing in negotiating new TV and Film contracts, probably direct to video/TV movies like the NBC one but hopefully including theatrical stuff, and also enhancing the profile of the brand through PR. IMHO i think they'll be building on all the great work that was done this year (such as the licensing and Fox/NBC production deals) rather than totally starting from scratch. The only thing to watch out for is the dreaded 'Family' and 'Direct To Video' words - There'll probably be battles between the creative people at Henson and the management over whether the Muppets keep on the 'family' track but with other non-Muppet productions geared towards family audiences too.

    As for Rivkin, i'm not sure. Seems like if this goes through he'd either go or become a general manager or something. He was appointed to the position by EMTV and they remain in control so it doesn't automatically mean he leaves until they say so. The article seems to imply the new management team will actually be Henson based though so i guess thats the main thing that'll change at JHC and they'll be in those positions. It doesn't seem to affect the creative team.

    Before we start seeing articles on MC about how Disney have lost out on the Muppets yet again, i don't think this is true at all. All anonyfrog sources pointed, all along, to them not being all that interested and not making any real significant moves to aquire Henson other than having a nose around at what might be on offer. The news articles last week were a suprise to many and in general, IMO i don't think it came down to that much of a bidding process where the company was sold to the highest bidder. Some companies signed letters of intent and then EMTV evaluated the options and went for what they thought was the best deal for them which was the one that let them keep the Muppets - of course it doesn't mean they can't sell their stake later on, go bankrupt, buy back the shares in the future etc etc. The real bad thing is that this still leaves plenty of uncertain times ahead for the Henson Company, even more so now that they probably will have split owners.

    As for all the PR guff about 'continuing the legacy' you would have got that with any interested buyer, in fact we saw that with EMTV themselves and look what happened there. Things don't look too bad but it's far too early to judge that but i don't see any reason to be angry !
  12. sarah_yzma

    sarah_yzma Well-Known Member


    isn't this an ok happening???? i mean if they DO sell 49.9% that solves some $ troubles right??? of did i not understand...please help me!
  13. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Oh, I forgot to mention:

  14. murgatoad

    murgatoad Well-Known Member

    Hey, what about me, Luke? I was the OTHER crazy person who kept saying the Disney deal wouldn't happen. Disney isn't that stupid.

    As for the rest of the article, given that the emphasis was placed on Kermit ("Kermit and the Muppets"), then that, my friends, is a signal that the bad times are indeed going to keep happening for Henson. What that phrasing signifies is that there are certain fools still in charge that don't realize that Kermit's appeal pretty much died the day Jim did. (Otherwise "Kermit's Swamp Years" might have done a bit better in sales, even given the devastating reviews).

    I for one would love to know the amount of money paid/promised. I'd be willing to bet it's even below 80 million. But the bottom line here is...you can pretty much rule out any new lavish productions for the Muppets, kids. Very likely the NBC film was their last hurrah.
  15. EmmyMik

    EmmyMik Well-Known Member

    I'm complaining because these press releases use too many words that they don't need. And I can never understand them...

  16. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    I think Emmy has a good point. The press release is spin. Press releases are always spin. The real news could be stated very simply:

    EM.TV has agreed to sell a 49.9% stake in the JHC to a group of US investors led by Dean Valentine.

    In general, I agree with Luke. It's too soon to pass judgement. From a nostalgic fan perspective, it would be comforting to see JHC in the hands of people who have worked there for years. But that's not going to happen and from a business perspective it probably wouldn't be good for the company. There are some incredibly talented people at Henson-- but most of them are on the creative side of the company. JHC needs people who can negotiate deals and get the company back on track financially. EM.TV has great distribution (if I'm wrong on that I'm sure Luke will correct me! :p ) Em.TV could prove very helpful, if they can manage their own financial problems and thus have the time and resources to put into developing the stuff they already own (as opposed to buying everything that comes along). We'll just have to see how this plays out and what happens over the next couple years (it could take time to see real changes). Hopefully JHC, no matter who owns them, will be able to build on the momentum they've worked hard to develop this year.

    As for Disney, I think I've been pretty clear on my views there. ;)
  17. sidcrowe

    sidcrowe Well-Known Member

    Yucky :(

    EM.TV still...STILL has a controlling interest :eek:

    Now TWO groups, neither one of them a superpower, will be stewards of the Henson legacy :confused:

    Jim wanted a safe, strong place for the Muppets back in 1990, and they continue to be splintered and shuffled along with Sesame Street as time passes. Heck, I don't like Disney either, but I'd rather that they be there than what just happened.

    This is BAD news, all the way :mad:
  18. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    Umm, Sesame Workshop (aka CTW) has always owned and controlled Sesame Street. They used to share rights to the Sesame Muppets with Henson and now they own their Muppets out right as well. I don't see any shuffling. Did I miss something?
  19. Bean Bunny

    Bean Bunny Well-Known Member

    What the @!!!!!%%$$#**!!!
  20. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    the fever is still...

    Heh, well first off happy Xmas Eve folks. Aw, what a nice Xmas present huh?

    Luke, why don't more people listen to us. I was half right, you were fully right. You said we were looking at a Xmas-early January thing that might be in the middle of extremes good or bad. I said none of us would know til we woke up one day soon and logged onto the internet.

    As expected, I knew there would be some confusion and outrage no matter what went down.

    This news isnt a shocker in the least bit, it is not even really news.
    So EMTV plays yet another cat and mouse game to slip away.
    Just like Saddam. So many parralells. Still could be a red herring,
    as something just doesnt feel impactful.

    I am reminded of thet bible parable about cutting the baby in half.

    And what this news means...is that EM.TV managed to wiggle away after we thought we had em...it is basically akin to
    Saddam playing a few games to get pressure away from Iraq while he slips from out of the noose.

    Perhaps it is a true testament to the unfairness of life.
    Our heritage and lineage at stake, yet such uncertainty and complacency unfolds still. Where are the visionaries, the
    leaders, the bold visions to carry the Muppet brand and JHC into new heights and directions? Is a stagnant '1993' era mentality of Family brand named straight to video specials and other such dangerous slopes the future?

    While it is refreshing to see the black magic kingdom mouse far away from this sale, I still cant help but feel this news means nothing but the continuation of what weve already seen.

    Are we going to continue to let our Zion, our mecca, to be held hostage like this? EM.TV is a hydra serpantine, just when ya think your finally loose, it sprouts another head and manages to tangle you and slip away at the same time.

    ...hopefully something can be done about this situation
    (im pulling for rivkin to think of something, he is quite the guru and leader)

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