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Business

M&A & Partnerships

Mattel enters into a joint-venture with Chinese internet technology and video game company NetEase to form a mobile publishing and development studio called Mattel163. The studio will create apps based on brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Thomas & Friends. Mattel163′s first title is based on the card game UNO, and is available on Facebook Messenger, iOS, and Android.

Mobile games developed TT Games will open a new U.K.-based studio focused on creating new LEGO games from the ground up.

George Feldenkreis offers to take the company he founded, Perry Ellis Intl., private in a $430 million deal. According to WWD, Feldenkreis is partnering with Fortress Investment Group in the hope that the Perry Ellis board would consider the offer on an “expeditious basis.” His offer comes six months after his forced resignation as Executive Chairman; Feldenkreis had led the company for over 50 years as Chairman & CEO, until a push from an activist investor split the positions in 2015. His son, Oscar, is now President & CEO. The Feldenkreis family’s ownership stake in the company’s stock is valued at over $100 million. The move is largely seen as a bid to further consolidate power in the family and guide the company to a longer-term perspective.

The Asmodee Group enters into exclusive discussions to acquire Polish distributor and publisher Rebel SP. Z O.O. The deal will give Asmodee direct access to the fastest-growing game market in Europe.

Viacom acquires the world’s biggest conference dedicated to YouTube and online video, VidCon. Agency UTA, which brokered the deal, will continue to represent the confab and oversee global sponsorship sales. In 2017, the flagship Anaheim, CA convention welcomed over 30,000 attendees, 80 sponsors, and 45 exhibitors. The event has been replicated in Europe and Australia, and there may be plans to extend VidCon even further internationally. VidCon will run as a standalone subsidiary operating independently under CEO Jim Louderback; Co-founder Hank Green will also continue be involved.

At the same time, Viacom lays off close to 100 employees across multiple divisions—a cost-cutting effort focused mostly on support staff—and shutters Viacom Next, its emerging entertainment technology group. The group primarily struck partnerships with musicians and other creatives to produce original VR music videos, VR games, and AR experiences.

World Kitchen rebrands as Corelle Brands Holdings; its brands include Corelle, Pyrex, Snapware, Chicago Cutlery, and CorningWare. The name change follows the housewares company’s acquisition by private equity firm Cornell Capital last April.

Sister companies Bradshaw Intl. and Butler Home Products unify as Bradshaw Home, combining their expertise in kitchenware and cleaning, respectively, into one business. The new entity now houses brands including Mr. Clean, Dawn, Casabella, Clorox, Black & Decker, and T-Fal under one roof. Co-Presidents Brett Bradshaw and Rob Michelson will continue to head the new enterprise.

Newell Brands is exploring strategic options for the sell-off of Rubbermaid, amongst other brands, in a possible portfolio reconfiguration that would reorganize the business around nine core consumer divisions. Businesses potentially on the cutting block include Waddington, Goody styling tools and hair accessories, Process Solutions, Mapa, Rawlings, and U.S. Playing Cards. If the changes are executed as planned, the company claims that it would boast an “approximately $11 billion focused portfolio of leading consumer-facing brands with attractive margins and growth potential in global categories.”

But internally, not everyone is happy with the move—activist investor Starboard Value is launching proxy fight to kick out Newell’s entire board of directors as well as its CEO. Starboard is working with former Jarden executives to shift course at the company; Newell purchased Jarden Consumer Solutions in 2016 for $15 billion, more than doubling in size by adding brands ranging from Mr. Coffee to Oster to Crock-Pot to its portfolio. The investor is apparently unhappy with how Newell has integrated the two companies; with unprepared executives running larger units. Starboard’s last big victory was in 2014, when it succeeded in overthrowing the directors of Darden Restaurants.

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