Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) said today it has agreed to acquire toymaker HIT Entertainment from an investor consortium led by Apax Partners.
Mattel will pay $680 million in cash for the company, which owns a portfolio of brands including Thomas & Friends, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina.
In its announcement, Mattel noted that HIT Entertainment is one of the largest independent owners of preschool intellectual properties, and some of the most loved preschool brands.
CEO Robert Eckert said Mattel is the right home for Thomas & Friends in particular, as the brands joins the ranks of Mattel's 'iconic' Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price and American Girl brands.
Mattel already make many Thomas & Friends products under a license from HIT Entertainment.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012, and is not expected to have a material impact on Mattel's 2012 earnings, although the company does expect it to be increasingly accretive.
Rival Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) missed analyst expectations with its earnings report last week, as did Cabbage Patch kids maker Jakks Pacific (NASDAQ:JAKK). LeapFrog Enterprises (NYSE:LF) reports earnings on November 1.
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