Jim Henson Buy Off And On Again
A U.S. investment group led by media entrepreneur Dean Valentine and Europlay Capital Advisors, LLC terminated its official bid to buy 49.9% of The Jim Henson Company, Inc. from EM.TV & Merchandising. The terms of the non-binding letter of intent agreed upon in late December 2002 have been terminated. Former UPN chief Valentine, who also ran Walt Disney Co.'s Touchstone TV and the animation unit, was keen on buying a majority interest in JHC to expand the Henson brand into all areas of family entertainment. The partial sale was to be used to pay off EM.TV's so-called "Junior Loan," which financed the German media company's 50% acquisition in the Junior TV joint venture with the failed Kirch Media Group. Lenders have given EM.TV an extension until April 30,2003 to repay the remaining 25M Euros outstanding. EM.TV is entertaining other offers billionaire entrepreneur Haim Saban has expressed interest in buying JHC and a stake in EM.TV plus Valentine and Europlay are continuing negotiations. The partial or complete sale of JHC would allow EM.TV to repay the Junior loan completely as well as secure liquidity for the EM.TV group. EM.TV paid $680M for JHC in March 2000. EM.TV sold the rights to the Sesame Street characters to Sesame Workshop for $180M and its stake in Crown Media Holdings for about $100M. EM.TV was founded in 1989 and rose rapidly with an aggressive expansion agenda until dramatic buys like JHC and Formula One motor racing in close succession piled up a staggering debt. For more on EM.TV check out www.em-ag.de.