Cookie Jar gets its hands on DIC in $87 mil merger


Canadian animation producer Cookie Jar Entertainment will acquire Burbank-based DIC Entertainment Holdings as part of an $87.6 million merger.

Cookie Jar said Friday that DIC, a global brand management company home to properties like "Inspector Gadget," will become a subsidiary of the privately owned Toronto-based producer once the deal closes in the fall.

Cookie Jar will pay about $31.5 million for stock in DIC that is traded on London's AIM market, take on $42 million in forecasted debt and pay $14.1 million in transaction fees and expenses.

The merger follows a lengthy multiround sales process conducted by JPMorgan that culminated in a Wednesday meeting of DIC senior executives and board members at which Cookie Jar's final merger terms were received.

The proposed merger will create an indie animation and brand management giant with a library of about 6,000 half-hours of programming.

Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh said he has known and worked on joint projects with DIC chairman and CEO Andy Heyward for more than 25 years and knows the DIC library well.

Heyward will remain with DIC, which employs about 200 people, as president of the newly formed Cookie Jar subsidiary.

"With our strength in producing shows and getting them distributed around the world, and (DIC's) strength in merchandising and licensing, we get a great kids company," Hirsh said.

Cookie Jar also obtains such popular DIC properties as "Gadget" and "Horseland" and a one-third interest in KidsCo, the international kids TV channel co-owned by NBC Universal and Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment. (partialdiff)