"Time Warner to Buy Hasbro in $2 Billion Deal"
Optimus Prime and Bugs Bunny are about to become step-brothers.
Time Warner is in the process of buying Hasbro, Inc. for $2.1 billion in cash and stock. The deal would give the home of Looney Tunes ownership of Hasbro's 5,000 toy and game franchises.
If Warner doesn't neuter Hasbro's stable of toys — a colorful and expanding universe with deep pulp roots and characters that have proven to be extremely popular over the years — the deal could help the toy giant extend its recent Hollywood success and expand its overseas operations.
"This transaction combines Hasbro's strong global brand and world-renowned library of franchises including Transformers, G.I. Joe, Playskool, Monopoly, Beyblade and Star Wars with Warner's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories," said Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner's chairman and CEO, in a statement Friday.
The boards of the two companies have approved the deal, which must clear antitrust review and gain approval from Hasbro's shareholders before being completed. Time Warner would pay owners of Hasbro stock $30 a share in cash, plus 0.745 Warner shares for every Hasbro share they own.
Based on today's closing price for Time Warner stock, the transaction value is $50 per Hasbro share, Time Warner said. Hasbro shares rose to $48.70 in premarket trading Friday on news of the sale, according to Reuters, while Warner shares dropped 3 percent.
Visitors to theme parks owned by Six Flags, which has a lifetime contract with Warner Bros., could soon see characters like Optimus Prime, Duke and Mr. Monopoly roaming the grounds or could find themselves soaring through the air on a Star Wars ride.
"Warner Bros. is the perfect home for Hasbro's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner in the press release. "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Hasbro to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Time Warner's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world." Goldner will continue to oversee Hasbro's operations and work to integrate the toys and board games into Warner's business.
The deal includes Hasbro Studios, the toy giant's increasingly successful movie production arm. After a few years of producing movies in partnership with other studios, Hasbro Studios released its first independently produced film last year: Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released as the third installment in the Transformers film franchise.
The movie, which raised the bar for films based on Hasbro's toy properties, launched Hollywood's blockbuster in the summer of 2011. Hasbro Studios is currently working on a fourth movie, Transformers 4, which the company showed off at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. Other Hasbro Studios pictures in development include G.I. Joe: Retaliation, slated for release in 2013, and an untitled one based on the board game Monopoly, due in either 2014 or 2015.
Reactions to news of the deal lit up the tweetosphere Monday, with some Hasbro fans expressing excitement and others condemning the purchase of Hasbro by the Time Warner conglomerate.
"A Cartoon Network-Hasbro film would blow my head clean off," tweeted Michael Borkowski. "Please make it happen."
Tons of Hasbro-Warner crossover jokes poured forth, with fans pointing out that Marvin the Martian and Cobra Commander might now be related.
Said K. T. Stevenson: "Warner Bros. buys Hasbro. The first G.I. Bunny movie I see will make me hurl."
Hasbro chairman Alfred Verrecchia also took to Twitter in an effort to reassure comics fans about the deal.
"Welcome to this moment in history," Verrecchia tweeted Friday morning. "Everyone relax, this is incredible news and all is well at Hasbro…. Everybody take a deep breath, all your favorite toys remain unchanged and Tom Brevoort remains grouchy."
Quesada pointed to the creative and business success that followed Warner's purchase of Turner for evidence that all is well within the House of Ideas.
"If you're familiar with the Warner/Turner relationship, then you'll understand why this is a new dawn for Hasbro and the comics industry," he said.
Meanwhile, acclaimed comics writer Warren Ellis, who has worked for Hasbro in the past, cracked wise about the pending deal.
"Why is everyone at Hasbro making quacking noises today?" Ellis tweeted. "It's horrible."