Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories.
Hasbro aims to expand its operations in film and TV. Entertainment One’s production infrastructure in multiple markets and its children’s programming IP made it an attractive target for Hasbro. Sources say the news came as a surprise to most people at Entertainment One.
Top eOne execs will join the Hasbro team, said the companies in a joint statement. The independent studio pointed to its kid-friendly fare, noting that it has been transforming its business to focus on “high-quality premium talent-driven content,” including its “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Monster Problems.”
But the sale to Hasbro raises questions about whether eOne will remain in the business of producing adult-focused movies and TV series. Entertainment One’s active slate includes Netflix’s “Trailer Park Boys” and We TV’s “Growing Up Hip Hop: New York.”
On the investor call after the market close Thursday, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner highlighted the potential to mesh eOne’s strength as a studio with Hasbro’s intellectual property.
“With eOne’s content creation capabilities … we can reach audience on all screens,” including cable and streaming, he said on the call.
Hasbro and Paramount Pictures in 2017 inked a deal to make live-action and animated films based on the toymaker’s intellectual property, but execs on the call indicated that that partnership would continue, even after the acquisition of eOne, opening the door to Paramount to further develop Hasbro’s IP.
Noting that eOne is profitable and that half of its EBITDA last came from its family brand portfolio, Goldner called “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” “highly profitable and merchandisable.”
Per the terms of the deal, eOne shareholders will receive 5.60 pounds per common share, a 31% premium to eOne’s 30-day volume weight average price as of Thursday. Hasbro said the deal will be financed with the proceeds of debt financing and $1 billion to $1.25 billion in cash from equity financing.
“The acquisition of eOne adds beloved story-led global family brands that deliver strong operating returns to Hasbro’s portfolio and provides a pipeline of new brand creation driven by family-oriented storytelling, which will now include Hasbro’s IP,” said Goldner in a statement. “In addition, Hasbro will leverage eOne’s immersive entertainment capabilities to bring our portfolio of brands that have appeal to gamers, fans and families to all screens globally and realize full franchise economics across our blueprint strategy for shareholders. We are excited to welcome eOne’s talented employees from around the world into the Hasbro family.”
Adding eOne to Hasbro will be accretive to adjusted EPS in the first year after the transaction, with mid- to high-teens accretion to adjusted EPS in the third full year after the close of the deal.
Entertainment One chairman of the board Allan Leighton said that he is “very pleased by this exciting development,” calling it a testament to eOne’s management vision, leadership and execution.
“Hasbro’s portfolio of integrated toy, game and consumer products, will further fuel the tremendous success we’ve achieved at eOne,” said eOne CEO Darren Throop. “There’s a strong cultural fit between our two companies; eOne’s stated mission is to unlock the power and value of creativity which aligns with Hasbro’s corporate objectives. eOne teams will continue to do what they do best, bolstered by the access to Hasbro’s extensive portfolio of richly creative IP and merchandising strength. In addition, the resulting expanded Hasbro presence in Canada through eOne’s deep roots will bring world class talent and production capabilities to Hasbro. Along with our leadership team, I look forward to working with Hasbro on our joint growth and success for many years to come.”
NEW YORK CITY’S 1.3 MILLION FREELANCERS EARN $31.4 BILLION
In New York City, 1.3 million people freelanced in the past 12 months, and they had earnings of $31.4 billion, according to a study, “Freelancing in New York: 2019” released last week by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Freelancers Union and Upwork Inc.
Looking at just the media and entertainment sector, 61% of workers said they have freelanced in the past 12 months.
“New York City may very well be the freelance capitol of the world, and this study shows the massive impact these creative workers have on our economy,” said New York City Council Member Robert Holden, chair of the Committee on Technology.
A majority of freelancers (62%) were freelancing by choice.
And 50% of freelancers did so part-time, 29% freelanced full-time and 20% did it to supplement traditional full-time work.
Other findings in the study included:
For New Yorkers engaged in freelance work, 45% of their income comes from freelancing on average on an individual level.
73% of New York City freelancers use friends, family, clients or professional contacts as a means of finding work. That figure rises to 80% for media and entertainment freelancers.
Freelancers’ primary concern is access to affordable health insurance. They also worry about managing their day-to-day finances and collecting payments for services as 74% have experienced nonpayment or late payment.
The study included 5,000 working adults in New York City. Of those 1,728 had engaged in freelance work.
New York Set To Join Michigan In Banning Some E-Cigarettes
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he will push for a ban on some e-cigarettes amid a health scare linked to vaping — a move that would follow a similar ban enacted by Michigan and a call from President Trump for a federal prohibition on certain vaping products.
Speaking in Manhattan, Cuomo, a Democrat, said the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council and state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker would issue an emergency regulation banning flavored e-cigarette products.
“Vaping is dangerous,” the governor said. “At a minimum, it is addicting young people to nicotine at a very early age.”
“We would ban all flavors besides tobacco and menthol,” he said.
The push at the state and federal levels to ban certain vaping products comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that 380 confirmed or probable cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarettes had been identified in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with six confirmed deaths.
Earlier this month, Michigan imposed a similar ban. Bills to halt the sale of flavored vaping products have been introduced in California and Massachusetts.
Last week, Trump, appearing beside Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, announced that his administration would move toward a federal ban of flavored vaping products.
“Vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, but we can’t allow people to get sick and allow our youth to be so affected,” the president said.
“We intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Azar said in a statement.
In July, Cuomo signed a law that raised the minimum age for purchase of tobacco and e-cigarettes in the state from 18 to 21.
UAW Goes On Strike Against General Motors
The United Auto Workers began a nationwide strike just before midnight on Sunday at General Motors after both sides failed to agree on a new contract over issues including wages, health care and profit-sharing.
Production across the U.S. is expected to be halted, affecting nearly 50,000 worker at 33 manufacturing plants in nine states as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses until a new contract is hammered out.
“At midnight tonight, the picket lines will go up,” the UAW’s Brian Rothenberg said at a news conference in Detroit on Sunday. “But basically, when the morning shift would have reported for work, they won’t be there. The picket lines are being set up.”
Night-shift workers at a plant in Bedford, Ind., that makes transmission castings and other parts, shut off their machines and went home, Dave Green, a worker, told The Associated Press.
Green, who transferred from the now-closed GM car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, said: “This is not about us. It’s about the future.”
The strike is the first against GM since a two-day walkout in 2007.
On Saturday, union officials allowed their contract to lapse around midnight. GM leadership has sought to contain the company’s health care costs, but union leadership said workers refuse to agree to a contract that makes health care more expensive for them.
“While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality health care, and job security, GM refuses to put hard working Americans ahead of their record profits,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. “We don’t take this lightly.”
Officials at GM said in a statement to NPR that the company “presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways,” adding that: “It is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike.”
Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research, an independent research organization, said both sides are looking at the prospect of a weakening economy.
“The company and the union look at the very same set of economic fundamentals and see the same writing on the wall and have different motivations,” Dziczek said.
“The company looks at that and says, ‘Well, if we hit a downturn, we want to be able to have contingent compensation, so we don’t get locked into paying higher costs if the market softens.’ That same set of economic facts drives the union to want more guaranteed and certain compensation: base wage increases,” she said.
Dziczek said the strike would have to last more than a month to affect inventory at car dealerships. But she said the impact will ripple fast across North America.
“There’s great reliance on cross-border trade in engines and transmissions and other parts to support production in Canada and Mexico, so it wouldn’t take long before Canada and Mexico were also shut down,” she said.
Some of the major sticking points include the cost of health insurance and pay raises demanded by workers. GM made $8.1 billion in profits last year.
GM has announced closing four factories and the union has been fighting those decisions. GM says the average hourly employee makes around $90,000 a year. The UAW’s Ted Krumm said the union will not make concessions.
“This strike is about us. It’s about standing up for fair wages, for affordable, quality health care, for our share of profits and for our job security,” Krumm said at a Sunday press conference.
The move to strike comes as legal troubles follow the union. A federal corruption scandal has led to guilty pleas by five people in the UAW. The FBI has raided the home of Gary Jones, the union’s current president. Some workers have called on Jones to step down amid the probe, which has accused some union officials of hiding bribes and embezzling money from the union.
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