Mattel, most famous for Barbie (or to fans here, for their DC Master license) is in some serious trouble according to MGA Entertainment founder and CEO Isaac Larian. Larian (the creator of Bratz and LOL dolls) has been trying to purchase Mattel for a few months now, but pulled his latest offer and said, “Mattel is insolvent.”
“The message to Mattel is very clear — they are in big, big trouble. Frankly why I gave up on the merger talks — we were considering a hostile takeover — because after further research Mattel is in such a situation right now I don’t think they can be salvaged,” Larian, the creator of Bratz and LOL dolls, said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “There is too much water under the bridge and unfortunately, they are going to go the same way as Toys R Us.”
Larian cited an uncooperative Mattel management team and what he believes is a deeply troubled brand. The toy mogul did say he would be interested in buying Mattel’s brands on the cheap in bankruptcy should that day arrive. Of course after this news broke yesterday, Mattel’s stock dropped 4%.
Mattel on the other hand thinks differently about their company. They say that Larian view of the company is wrong. Mattel did end the first quarter with $380 million in cash. It also has a $1.6 billion untapped credit line secured in December 2017, according to its latest quarterly filing.
Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz and his executive team have embarked on a $650 million cost-cutting plan. This includes creating a movie studio for some of their brands (He-Man will be making a big screen comeback in 2021 starring Noah Centineo as the hero). Mattel could be betting the farm on this film and if it fails, could spell doom for the company.
Despite the efforts, Mattels’ sales and profits continued to be under extreme pressure in the first quarter of 2019. Mattels’ first quarter ended with $2.8 billion in long-term debt, some of which will come due over the next several years.
As toy fans I think some of us saw the writing on the wall, when DC Comics decided not to renew their master license with Mattel. The past few years have seen starts and stops with the Masters of the Universe license, then licensing it out to Super 7 and now with a He-Man SDCC Exclusive coming out, possibly taking the license back? There have also been in collector’s eyes, massive stocking issues and getting figures into collector’s hands. When is the last time you saw DC Multiverse on a store shelf on a regular basis?
The next three years will definitely be interesting for the toy maker that was once on the top of the mountain.
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Mattel, the largest toy company in the world, was founded in 1945. It produces a huge range of dolls, toys, games, and video games for boys and girls of all ages. In addition to the company’s very-well-known lines like Barbie and Hot Wheels, Mattel also provides merchandise under license to some of the world’s most famous properties. Many of the firm’s products have become a part of our culture and one would be hard pressed to find any adult in this country who has not owned, played with, or at least touched one of Mattel’s myriad of toys.