Cookie Jar deal crumbling for lack of dough

American Greetings plans to buy 'Shortcake,' 'Care Bears'

TORONTO -- Market turmoil has forced American Greetings to rework the $195 million sale of its "Strawberry Shortcake," "Care Bears" and "Sushi Pack" properties to Canadian animation producer Cookie Jar Entertainment.

"These are very difficult economic times and the original deal with Cookie Jar is no longer viable," an American Greetings spokesman said Wednesday. "We are still looking at other options as our intent is still to sell the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake properties at this time."

Cookie Jar first unveiled its deal with American Greetings in July, soon after it acquired Burbank-based DIC Entertainment Holdings for $87.6 million.

But the Canadian producer failed to close the all-cash deal by Sept. 30, just as credit markets seized up.

On Wednesday, Cookie Jar offered no comment as American Greetings said it is seeking new suitors for its cartoon properties. But it is understood that Cookie Jar has until March 31 to match a new offer for the American Greetings assets, up to a pre-established threshold.

In an Oct. 8 regulatory filing, American Greetings said that it had "the right to solicit offers from third parties to purchase the properties" and that Cookie Jar may match any third party bid.

Confusion over the original deal with Cookie Jar was compounded Tuesday when American Greetings renewed a home entertainment deal for the "Care Bears" catalog with Lionsgate, with additional rights thrown in.

Lionsgate also grabbed the rights to "Sushi Pack," a property co-produced by American Greetings and Burbank-based DIC Entertainment.