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Good grief: Peanuts gang rights sold for $175 million

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A New York-based brand management company said Tuesday it would acquire the Peanuts brand in partnership with the family of the characters' creator, Charles M. Schulz, for $175 million.

Iconix Brand Group (ICON) and the Schulzes will purchase the licensing, character rights and other assets from United Features Syndicate and The E.W. Scripps Company, two publishing houses. Iconix said it will retain an 80% ownership stake in the new company, while the Schulzes will hold the remaining 20%.

Peanuts will be added to Iconix's list of household consumer brands such as Joe Boxer, Candies, Cannon and Danskin. The company also has business relationships with theme parks, media companies, and financial institutions.

"Owning the Peanuts business moves Iconix well beyond fashion into a true global brand management entity." said Neil Cole, chairman and chief executive of Iconix in a statement.

Schulz's characters, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty and Linus, have found their way into millions of homes through national newspaper comic strips and television specials.

Since Schulz's death in early 2000, the brand has been managed by family-owned Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, in partnership with United Media Licensing, a division of UFS. The Peanuts brand is currently licensed in over 40 countries and generates annual sales of over $2 billion. The deal with Iconix will end a 60-year relationship between United Media and the Schulz family.

"Peanuts now has the best of both worlds, family ownership and the vision and resources of Iconix to perpetuate what my father created throughout the next century with all the goodwill his lovable characters bring," said Craig Schulz, son of the late cartoonist.

Iconix forecast the Peanuts franchise would generate $75 million in annual royalty revenue. The costs to run the Peanuts business is likely to be higher than its existing businesses because of a contractual revenue share with the Schulz heirs in addition to the 20% ownership stake.

"We believe Peanuts' large global footprint and broad licensing relationships will also open up new doors for our existing portfolio of brands and future acquisitions," said Iconix's Cole.  To top of page

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