Playboy Reportedly in Talks to Sell Itself to Iconix

CHICAGO — News that Playboy Enterprises is in talks to sell itself has speculators jumping at the stock, which rose 42 percent in trading late Thursday.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Playboy was in talks to sell itself to the Iconix Brand Group. The report cited two unidentified people close to the situation.

Iconix, the owner of the Candie’s, Mossimo, Danskin and London Fog brands, has looked at Playboy’s finances, said one of those people, who declined to be identified because the talks are not public, Bloomberg said.

The discussions may not lead to a transaction, this unnamed person said.

Earlier this year, XBIZ reported that a number of companies — Virgin Media, Apollo Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners — heard Playboy's sales pitch.

According to Bloomberg, CEO Neil Cole said in October the company has $200 million to $300 million available for acquisitions. The company bought a controlling stake in Ecko brands this month and made an unsuccessful bid for outdoor-clothing chain Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. earlier this year.

Cole founded the New York-based company in 1992. Revenue has more than doubled in the past two years, from $80.7 million in 2006 to $216.8 million last year.

Before Thursday’s news broke, Playboy’s market value had dropped to about $100 million after the stock fell 76 percent in five years and circulation at its flagship magazine declined.

Playboy’s management has been looking for a buyer since Scott Flanders was appointed as CEO in June, replacing Christie Hefner, one person close to the situation told Bloomberg.

Playboy in a statement Thursday afternoon said that, "in response to inquiries related to a potential sale of the company, in keeping with its policy, it does not comment on matters of this type."

At post time, Playboy shares were trading $4.07 on the New York Stock Exchange.