Cookie Jar cleans up crumbs

Rights deal with American Greetings clears path to DIC acquisition

A $193.5 million deal with American Greetings for its Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears properties has cleared the way for animation producer Cookie Jar Entertainment to acquire DIC Entertainment Holdings.

Cookie Jar unveiled the $87.6 million merger with Burbank-based DIC on June 20 but was blocked from concluding the deal after American Greetings secured a temporary injunction. DIC had distributed Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears on behalf of American Greetings, and the properties have generated about $5 billion in retail sales of licensed product the past five years.

The litigation was dismissed after Cookie Jar's acquisition of the rights to Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears. As part of the deal, Toronto-based Cookie Jar also picks up Sushi Pack, a property co-produced by American Greetings and DIC.

The separate Cookie Jar-DIC merger will create an indie animation and brand management giant with a library of 6,000 half-hours of programming. Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh said his company will rank among the top three indie animation producers worldwide.

"We're looking to establish worldwide leadership in the kids arenas, and these deals are important steps in achieving that goal," he said.

Cookie Jar must secure financing for the Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bear properties before the American Greetings deal can close at the end of September. (partialdiff)