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Haim Saban to acquire Paul Frank Industries, creator of Julius the monkey

August 17, 2010 | 12:08 pm

Haim Saban is getting into some real monkey business this time.JuliusHEAD

The Los Angeles billionaire announced Tuesday that his Saban Capital Group and its affiliate Saban Brands was acquiring Southern California-based Paul Frank Industries, a nearly 15-year-old licensing and retail operation. The deal includes the whimsical Julius the monkey icon that adorns apparel and accessories, and about 150 other characters. 

The two companies declined to provide financial details, although the purchase price was reported by the New York Post to be around $50 million.

This was the second major purchase for Saban during the last four months. As part of its quest to bulk up on novel brands, Saban Capital bought back the rights to the kids TV show "Power Rangers" from the Walt Disney Co. in May in a transaction worth about $100 million. Saban Capital has set up a fund of $500 million to make acquisitions. 

The Paul Frank Industries' soft characters, which largely appeal to young children and mothers, complement the more potent Power Rangers, said Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands.

The two companies began talks earlier this year.

"We think this was certainly an iconic brand with cross-generational appeal and it became available.  We think we can bring significant added value and build the brand going forward," Saban said in an interview.

Saban and his team believe they can make Julius an even bigger media star, particularly in foreign markets. "If you ask me if there is going to be a Julius cartoon show, I would say I don't know, but  we will look at all of the potential media platforms for all of the characters."

Ryan Heuser will continue on as the chief creative officer of Paul Frank Industries, and the company will keep its nearly 20-member creative team at the company's current headquarters in Costa Mesa. 

-- Meg James

Image of Julius the Monkey, courtesy of Paul Frank Industries.