Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their animated friends are about to have a new boss. Children’s entertainment company DHX Media — whose properties include Teletubbies and Inspector Gadget — has agreed to pay $345 million for Iconix Brand Group, which owns 80% of Charles Schulz’ Peanuts as well as all of Strawberry Shortcake.
Schulz’ family will continue to own 20% of the Peanuts franchise.
DHX expects the deal to close by the end of June, following approval by antitrust officials.
“Peanuts is one of the world’s greatest entertainment brands, with a tremendous global legacy of comics, animated content and consumer products reaching back almost 70 years,” DHX chief Dana Landry says.
Peanuts and Strawberry Shortcake “have widespread, evergreen appeal,” he adds. That will strengthen DHX’s “scale in consumer products” and “drive meaningful growth across multiple revenue streams” to reach “new generations of kids worldwide.”
Charles Schulz’ widow, Jean Schulz, called DHX “a perfect fit for Peanuts. We respect their innovative and rich history with developing children’s shows and brands, and we look forward to working with Dana and his team to steward Peanuts in the future.”
The deal will give the Canadian media company more than 340 half-hours of proprietary content that it can use to, as it says, “feed potential new production including new digital content for YouTube, mobile, and video-on-demand services.” DHX has the WildBrain network on YouTube.
Sales of consumer products will account for 44% of DHX’ annual revenues after the acquisition, up from 19%.
Meanwhile revenues could grow 52% to about C$443 million, with adjusted EBITDA up 40% to approximately C$134 million. The company expects to see about C$5 million in cost synergies per year in the first year, rising to $25 million within five years.
RBC Capital Markets and Jefferies Finance agreed to provide fully underwritten debt financing for the purchase price and will refinance almost all of DHX’ current debt.