NEW YORK: Hollywood executives Jeff Sagansky and Harry Sloan are in advanced talks to acquire magazine publishing company Playboy Enterprises Inc through an acquisition vehicle they launched last year, people familiar with the matter said.
A deal will test the value of Playboy’s brand, known for its bunny ears logo, which has shown up on items from clothes to jewelry. The magazine, which featured Marilyn Monroe as its first centerfold in 1953, stopped publishing nude photographs earlier this year.
Double Eagle Acquisition Corp, Sagansky and Sloan’s special purpose acquisition company, is negotiating the acquisition of Playboy as part of a portfolio of assets it is seeking to buy from private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management for between $2 billion and $3 billion, the people said on Wednesday.
Rizvi Traverse’s portfolio also includes investment stakes in Twitter Inc, SpaceX, Square Inc and Snapchat, as well as RealD Inc, a 3D movie technology company it acquired earlier this year. It is not clear whether Double Eagle would acquire all the assets of Playboy Enterprises, or which other Rizvi Traverse holdings would be included in the deal.
The sources cautioned that deal negotiations could still fall through and asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Double Eagle and Playboy declined to comment, while Rizvi Traverse did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Beverly Hills, California-based Playboy Enterprises publishes Playboy magazine in the United States and abroad. It also has licensing agreements for consumer products that feature its brand in more than 180 countries.
Over time, the value of the Playboy logo surpassed that of the actual magazine. Circulation of Playboy has dropped from about 5.6 million in 1975 to around 800,000 in recent years.
The company stopped publishing nude photos in February, arguing they had become outdated due to the plethora of free pornography on the Internet. It now focuses more on men’s lifestyle topics.
Playboy Enterprises was taken private in 2011 by Rizvi Traverse and the magazine’s founder, Hugh Hefner, in a deal that valued the company at $207 million.
Sagansky, a former president of CBS Entertainment and co-president of Sony Pictures Television, and Harry Sloan, a former chairman and chief executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, raised $500 million through the initial public offering of Double Eagle in 2015.
Double Eagle was launched with no assets, but it will use the money it raised from the IPO, as well as debt, to buy companies.