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Cookie Jar to Acquire American Greetings Properties; Deal with DIC Finalized

Cookie Jar Entertainment has not only settled its litigation with American Greetings over its proposed merger with DIC Entertainment, but the children’s entertainment company will acquire AG’s evergreen properties Strawberry Shortcake, Care

April 6, 2018

4 Min Read

Cookie Jar Entertainment has not only settled its litigation with American Greetings over its proposed merger with DIC Entertainment, but the children’s entertainment company will acquire AG’s evergreen properties Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears and Sushi Pack for $195 million.

In addition, Cookie Jar announced that its proposed merger with DIC, announced June 20, has been finalized. DIC will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary effective immediately.

“We weren’t looking to sell the properties but in the process of litigation with Cookie Jar and DIC all sides were looking at ways to avoid a lawsuit and this was a solution raised. It was a way for Cookie Jar to grow quickly and we thought it was also in the best interest of American Greetings and a way to monetize some great properties and produce a great return for AG shareholders. For us it made sense given the circumstances and the price,” says Josef Mandelbaum, CEO of the intellectual property group at American Greetings.

The transaction establishes Cookie Jar as one of the world’s largest independent children’s entertainment and education companies with ownership and licensing rights to some of the world’s most recognizable character brands, an animation library totaling nearly 6,000 half-hours of family programming, and strong capabilities in global merchandising and licensing. Through DIC, Cookie Jar also owns a one-third interest in KidsCo, an international children’s television channel that currently has 5 million subscribers and is held in partnership with NBC-Universal and Corus Entertainment.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cookie Jar paid approximately $31.5 million for all of the issued and outstanding equity in DIC in a transaction valued at approximately $87.6 million.

“Cookie Jar is built on a solid foundation of great characters, talented people and the highest standards in kids’ entertainment and education,” says Cookie Jar’s CEO Michael Hirsh. “This transaction is an important milestone in our growth strategy and we continue to be receptive to deals that meet our criteria for excellence.”
 
“DIC expands our merchandising and licensing capabilities, adds valuable relationships with consumer brands such as McDonald’s, General Mills and Wal-Mart, and deepens our network in the global children’s entertainment industry,” says Cookie Jar president and COO Toper Taylor. “Michael and I look forward to working with [DIC’s] Andy Heyward who will focus on new strategic opportunities for Cookie Jar and build on his relationships in the industry. We are going to move quickly to integrate DIC’s existing operations into Cookie Jar’s ongoing businesses and platforms.”

Heyward has entered into a long-term employment agreement with Cookie Jar. “I am very pleased to be joining Cookie Jar, a profitable and well-capitalized company led by two of our industry’s most successful executives,” says Heyward. “This merger is an exciting development for the future of children’s entertainment worldwide.”

Since being re-introduced in 2002, Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears have generated more than $5 billion combined in retail sales of licensed product. As part of the deal, American Greetings gets a 10-year exclusive inbound licensing agreement for social expression products on all three properties.

“Looking at the future Cookie Jar gets two strong assets and we continue the relationship by retaining the rights to the properties in the social expressions category for 10 years and also have the right of first refusal after that,” says Mandelbaum.

“When Cookie Jar was founded we wanted to become an international power in children’s entertainment programming,” says Cookie Jar’s Hirsh. “We have been filling Cookie Jar with great properties such as Caillou, Arthur, Johnny Test and The Doodlebops. The acquisition of DIC and now Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears makes us the fastest-growing independent player in the industry.”
 
Mandelbaum from American Greetings adds, “Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears have been synonymous with American Greetings for more than 25 years and are beloved by all. We are very confident that Cookie Jar will be able to take these two properties to new heights. This is a great outcome for our company and shareholders that has allowed us to realize significant value from all of our past efforts in these properties.”

With the sale, American Greetings Properties, the entertainment and licensing division of AG, will continue to develop licensing, marketing and promotional programs for its other franchises including Twisted Whiskers, Mad Balls, Holly Hobbie, TinPo and its new preschool property Maryoku Yummy.

“We are a creative company and we want to leverage all our creative assets such as Twisted Whiskers, Mad Balls and Holly Hobbie and create new properties going forward,” adds Mandelbaum.

The Cookie Jar acquisition of AG’s properties is scheduled to close Sept. 30.

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