The maker of Bratz is still trying to buy Mattel
MGA Entertainment, the toy company that owns the Bratz and L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, really wants to buy Barbie maker Mattel.
MGA, which first approached Mattel about a deal in April 2015 and did so again last year, made another offer in May that Mattel rejected.
Larian said in the most recent offer to Mattel chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz, dated May 21, that “Mattel is clearly failing” and that a merger would benefit both companies. Larian proposed that he become the new chairman and CEO of Mattel and that all board members should step down immediately without receiving any further compensation.
Shares of Mattel rose nearly 9% in early trading Wednesday and the stock is now up about 20% this year. MGA was not immediately available for further comment. Mattel declined to comment.
But according to the correspondences released by Larian, Mattel’s chief legal officer Bob Normile responded to Larian’s offer on June 7 with a firm “no.”
Normile said that Mattel’s board “has unanimously concluded that your proposal is not in the best interests of Mattel and its shareholders.” He added that Mattel “is not interested in further discussions.”
The leak of these emails is the latest twist in a bizarre toy takeover story. MGA, which is privately held, has not released specific details about its offers for Mattel. But Larian’s letters and emails show that he’s been courting Mattel for more than four years.
MGA said it made its first offer in April 2015 to then Mattel chairman and CEO Chris Sinclair. At the time, MGA had just relaunched Bratz following the settlement of a series of lawsuits between MGA and Mattel about intellectual property rights.
Mattel is making a comeback
Mattel has gone through a series of management changes since then.
Sinclair was replaced in 2017 by Margo Georgiadis, who Mattel hired with much fanfare from Google to help Mattel focus more on high-tech interactive toys. But Georgiadis announced she was leaving just a year later to take over genealogy site Ancestry.com.
Still, it’s not clear that Mattel needs to partner with MGA — or any other toy maker for that matter. (Mattel has also reportedly turned down offers from key rival Hasbro over the past few years too.)
That’s because Kreiz, a former television studio executive, has helped turned things around for Mattel. He has used his Hollywood connections to ink several deals for new movies based on core Mattel franchises.
Mattel is partnering with Warner Bros. to make movies based on Barbie and Hot Wheels. It is also working with Son on a Masters of the Universe film about He-Man and his nemesis Skeletor. (Warner Bros., like CNN, is now a part of AT&T’ WarnerMedia.)
The company even just recently announced plans to make a live-action film based on its iconic Magic 8 Ball fortune-telling toy.
And Mattel hired Adam Bonnett, who had spent more than two decades at the Disney Channel, to lead Mattel’s TV efforts earlier this year.
Mattel, along with Hasbro, suffered last year following the bankruptcy and subsequent closing of Toys “R’ Us. But both companies have rebounded this year.
Shares of Mattel surged last week after the company announced a deal with Sanrio, the owner of the popular Hello Kitty franchise, to develop toys and games based on the Hello Kitty character. The company also recently announced expanded licensing deals with Warner Bros.’ DC Comics unit as well as Disney’s Pixar.
Mattel reported strong results during the 2018 holiday shopping season too. It posted a surprise profit and sales that topped Wall Street’s estimates, led by solid demand for Barbie and Hot Wheels toys.