EM.TV hires bank to help sell Muppets
of Yahoo News
German media rights company EM.TV & Merchandising said on Wednesday it had hired U.S. investment bank Allen & Company for a sale of Muppets creator, The Jim Henson company, as it seeks to shore up its finances.
EM.TV, which bought the U.S. company for $680 million in a buying spree last year, and then ran into heavy debt, is examining all options including a "sale, strategic partnership or part-sale,'' a spokeswoman for the company told Reuters.
According to the Financial Times Deutschland, the chief executive of The Jim Henson company, Charles Rivkin, is canvassing U.S. banks to raise $200 million to buy the children's programme company in a management buyout.
U.S. media giant Walt Disney is another possible contender for Jim Henson, after it was pipped to the post last time. Acccording to newspaper reports it is prepared to pay between $200 million and $250 million for the unit.
Nickelodeon, the children's TV unit of U.S. media group Viacom, may also be interested.
Munich-based EM.TV has said it will go back to focusing on trading children's television rights.
The company built up a net loss of 2.6 billion marks in 2000, mostly due to 2.1 billion marks in write-downs on the value of its holdings in Formula One holding company, SLEC, the Jim Henson Company and its stake in film rights dealer, Tele Muenchen.
But privately-owned media group Kirch then stepped in to buy 17 percent of EM.TV and 25 percent of the voting rights
The Jim Henson Co., founded in 1958, created the Muppet characters whose blend of irreverent humour and entertainment led by Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, won viewers in more than 100 countries.