Headlines of 2010: January to June

The big stories from the first six months of the year.
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Disney completes Marvel acquisition (Jan 1st)

Originally revealed back in August 2009, The Walt Disney Company completes its acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on Thursday, December 31st 2009, Marvel shareholders receive a total of $30 a share in cash plus approximately 0.7452 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own.

The Hub is unveiled (Jan 15th)

The official brand and logo is revealed for Hasbro and Discovery Communications new joint venture children's network. Known as The Hub, the network will reach approximately 60 million homes on what is currently the Discovery Kids network.


Hasbro back at Brand Licensing Europe (Feb 17th)

A raft of new companies pledge their support to this year's Brand Licensing Europe - including Hasbro, which is returning to the show following a six-year absence. The toy giant will line up alongside fellow new exhibitors Paramount Licensing, Hallmark, Dream Entertainment, Biplano SA, Smart Brands. Skechers, Backstage Srl, Kellogg Vintage Srchive, Dominique Vari, King Features and Bulls Press.

Space Enterprises emerges (Feb 23rd)

Former CEO of PPC, Steve O'Pray, and legal and commercial director of PPC Enterprises, Mark Hurry, reveal plans for a new licensing agency, Space Enterprises. The duo acquired PPC Enterprises from its group company. They retain its stable of brands, which include Monty Python, Pinky & Perky, Little Britain and The Hive.


Bobsleigh fund tops £30,000
(March 5th)

All 47 members of the licensing industry bobsleigh team are back in the UK and nursing their bruises, having raised £30,000 for The Light Fund. The Advanstar-sponsored event took place at Igls near Innsbruck, with the team launching themselves down a full-size Olympic bobsleigh track, reaching speeds of up to 90mph and experiencing up to five times the force of gravity on some bends. Click here to see the video.

BBC buys up 2entertain stake (March 8th)

BBC Worldwide spends £17 million to pick up the stake of DVD firm 2entertain previously held by Woolworths. According to Worldwide, no licence fee money had been used to purchase the 40 per cent stake. The deal is likely to secure the future of 2entertain, which publishes DVD and Blu-ray titles for a number of BBC shows including Top Gear and Doctor Who. It also distributes shows like Planet Earth around the world.

Industry gives thumbs up to BLCEE (March 16th)

Advanstar's first trade show for the Central and Eastern European region is given the thumbs up by visitors and exhibitors. Held on March 8th and 9th at the Corinthia Grand Hotel in Budapest, the show attracted 292 retailers and manufacturers. Some 87 per cent of visitors were budget holders or influencers in the purchasing process, while half of those attending on the first day returned on the second.
"It was crucial for us to get the balance of this event right for the 23 countries we were serving," commented Jessica Blue, event director. "Feedback from exhibitors and visitors has demonstrated that we did, creating a solid foundation on which to build for the future."


Peppa Pig breaks £100m in the UK (April 12th)

E1 Entertainment reveals that its Peppa Pig brand has grossed over £100 million at retail in the UK (excluding DVD), in the last financial year. Peppa Pig has notched up a number of milestones including becoming the number one pre-school property for girls and the number four overall licence in the UK in 2009. According to NPD data, Peppa Pig toy sales increased by more than 30 per cent in the last year.
On top of this, UK DVD sales have surpassed three million units; book sales from publishing partner Ladybird Books are in excess of two million copies in the UK; stage show Peppa Pig's Party is touring nationwide at over 60 venues throughout this year; and the first video game - Peppa Pig: The Game - has shifted 225,000 copies on Nintendo DS since November 2008.

Iconix swoops for Peanuts (April 27th)

Iconix Brand Group acquires the Peanuts brand from United Features Syndicate and The E W Scripps Company. The deal - thought to be worth in the region of $175 million - is a partnership with the Schultz family. As part of the agreement, Iconix will acquire the licensing and character representation business of United Media Licensing.


Saban Brands emerges (May 6th)

Saban Capital Group has formed a new division to acquire, manage and licence entertainment properties and consumer products - headed up by former Fox L&M man Elie Dekel. The firm has committed $500 million in capital to Saban Brands, which it will use to acquire a portfolio of IP in various categories. These will range from entertainment to fashion, lifestyle, celebrity and consumer brands. Dekel, who was head of licensing and merchandising for 20th Century Fox, will be president of the company.
Its first dip into that $500m comes on May 13th, with the acquisition of the Power Rangers brand.

4Kids considering buyout offer (May 11th)

4Kids Entertainment receives 'an indication of interest' from a third party to acquire the troubled firm. On the same day that the company reported a loss of $3.5 million for the first quarter ending March 31st 2010, 4Kids stated that the potential acquirer was being given due diligence information. The price on offer represents a premium over the recent closing prices for the company's common stock, subject to the completion of due diligence and negotiation of definitive agreements during a requested exclusivity period.
Further bad news for 4Kids came with the announcement that its market capitalisation had slipped below the minimum $15 million that New York Stock Exchange listed companies are required to maintain in order to remain listed. The company's shares could be delisted at any time.

Andrew Kerr to depart Classic Media (May 27th)

Classic Media confirmeds that Andrew Kerr, EVP of international marketing and consumer products, is to leave his role at the end of June. Kerr, who will continue to provide non-exclusive consultancy for the firm, is planning to start his own venture. Nicole Blake wiil take on Kerr's responsibilities, having been promoted to EVP, marketing and consumer products.
In addition to the extension of Blake's role to include the UK and rest of the world, current London office executives Claire Shaw and Mat Way have also had their responsibilities increased.

Byrne exits as Hit restructures (May 27th)

On the same day, Peter Byrne says he is leaving Hit, as the firm announces a restructure of its global operations. The realignment involves the creation of four new divisions that will form two new lines of business – one focusing solely on Thomas and Friends and the other on Hit Global Brands such as Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu and Rainbow Magic.


Discovery reveals new-look licensing push (June 7th)

Discovery Communications unveils a new two-pronged licensing strategy targeting men and children. In a special presentation ahead of Licensing International, SVP of Discovery Enterprises, Nicolas Bonard revealed that the firm is launching two extensions of its core Discovery Channel brand: Expedition and Adventure.

Fox unveils new consumer products division
(June 8th)

EVP Robert Marick restructures 20th Century Fox's L&M division to focus on global brand plans and international sales growth. Under the newly created banner Fox Consumer Products, Marick appointed a team of senior executives. The new team will be working to exploit the company’s TV and film properties through consumer products, retail partnerships and licensing initiatives.

In the Night Garden goes Stateside (June 8th)

BBC Worldwide and Ragdoll Productions close a deal to sell the series to Discovery Communications-Hasbro multi-platform joint venture, The Hub. From October 2010, children in the US will be able to watch the award-winning pre-school series in the US for the first time.

VEGAS 2010: The Verdict (June 21st)

It seemed that Las Vegas had been accepted as the new home of Advanstar's Licensing International, with a wide range of execs saying that this year's show surpassed all expectations. The showfloor was busier, buzzier, more effort had been made on the stands and even the confusing signage from 2009 had been improved.
Notably, on June 29th Advanstar said that the 2010 event was the highest attended show in years, with international visitors up 14 per cent.


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