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Playboy said to be in takeover talks

November 12, 2009 | 11:12 am

Shares of Playboy Enterprises Inc. have surged today on a report that the company might sell itself.

The publisher’s Class B stock was up 79 cents, or 28%, to $3.65 about 11:15 a.m. PST, after Bloomberg News said brand-licensing firm Iconix Brand Group Inc. was in deal talks with Playboy.

Playboy bunny logo Money-losing Playboy replaced longtime Chief Executive Christie Hefner with Scott Flanders in June, and has been looking for a potential buyer since then, Bloomberg said, citing an unnamed source. Read the full story here.

Playboy’s sales have crumbled since 2007, falling to $56 million in the third quarter from $83 million in the same quarter of 2007.

Hugh Hefner still controls the company via his 70% stake in the Class A stock. The Class B shares don’t have voting rights.

Playboy is a classic example of a company that never should have gone public, at least from investors’ point of view. Except for a spike in the share price to $33 during the dot-com frenzy of 1999, the stock has mostly been a dud for decades -- fun for savvy short-term traders, maybe, but a bomb for long-term investors.

-- Tom Petruno