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M&A: Bandai, Viacom, Bravado & More Expand

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Viacom strikes a deal to acquire free streaming TV service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash. President & CEO Bob Bakish identified the “significant white space in the ad-supported streaming market” as a growth opportunity for the company. Pluto TV streams over 100 channels and has more than 12 million monthly active users.

Universal Music Group’s Bravado aquires Epic Rights. Under the deal, the boutique merchandise and branding compay will retain its executive team, including CEO & Founder Dell Furano, as they continue to find branding and merchandising opportunities for the artists they represent. Epic Rights’ clients include: KISS, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Kevin Hart, 21 Savage, Madonna, and Celine Dion.

Esports retail and merchandise company We Are Nations acquires Sector Six Apparel, an esports apparel brand specializing in jerseys and custom team wear.

U.S. Toy Sales Down 2% in 2018

U.S. retail sales of toys reached $21.6 billion in 2018, down 2% from the $22 billion in sales in 2017, according to The NPD Group. The decline was attributed largely to the Toys “R” Us liquidation and significant shifts in retail.

Only four out of 11 toy categories showed growth—action figures, dolls, youth electronics, and arts and crafts. Dolls had the most significant uptick due to the L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, and Hatchimals. Action figures had the second-highest growth with sales from Jurassic World, Marvel Universe, and Beyblade driving sales. The arts and crafts category increased due to Cool Maker, Cra-Z-Art, and Kinetic. Finally, youth electronics were boosted by Fingerlings, Kidi, and L.O.L. Surprise!

Per the NPD, 2018’s leading properties, based on overall dollar sales, included L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Nerf, Marvel Universe, and Hot Wheels.

Simba Dickie Group acquires American toyco Jada Toys, known for its die-cast collectibles, radio control vehicles, and pre-school toys. The move will help Simba Dickie Group expand into the American market, while simultaneously giving a global platform to Jada.

Bandai Namco Collectibles, a newly established dedicated division of the global toyco of the same name, acquires Nippon Imports (dba Bluefin Distribution) as part its greater strategy to expand its market share in the North American toy and hobby market. For 2019, Bandai and Bluefin are developing powerhouse properties such as Mobile Suit Gundam, Star Wars, and Godzilla (for Tamashii Nations) as well as focus on Dragon Ball product lines from Bandai’s Shokugan, Hobby, and Tamashii Nations lines.


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