Virgin Won’t Buy Playboy; Acquisition Rumors Linger

LOS ANGELES — Rumors keep swirling over the possibility that Playboy Enterprises Inc. will be sold, despite news on Thursday that Virgin Media has no intention of buying the company.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group, which has a minority stake in Virgin Media, told Reuters that it won’t acquire the company.

But now the rumors have shifted, and it could be the case that another bid could be in the works, now that Apollo Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners have declined to be involved in an acquisition for the adult entertainment giant.

One company speculators have repeated is Ackrell Capital.

Peter Holt Gardiner told XBIZ that he could not “confirm nor deny" reports "on current clients” that his company, Ackrell Capital, is involved in acquisition talks.

Ackrell Capital is a San Francisco-based investment banking firm that specializes in mergers and acquisition transactions, as well as IPOs and private placements. The company claims all of its deals total more than $10 billion.

And Gardiner is no stranger to Playboy.

He was managing director with Eclipse Entertainment Capital, a strategic advisory firm with a focus on the entertainment and digital media businesses, when he brokered the $17.6 million Club Jenna deal that was sealed with Playboy in 2006.

Playboy has been on the block for $300 million since early this year, despite the fact that it only has a current market cap of $100 million.

The Chicago-based company has suffered financially because of advertising cutbacks and other effects of the recession. It posted a $13.7 million quarterly loss in May on a more than 20 percent revenue decline.