Perelman plans to boost stake in Marvel Entertainment Group


NEW YORK -- Investor Ronald O. Perelman, through his MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. holding company, plans to boost his stake in Marvel Entertainment Group Inc. through a $25-a-share cash tender offer for up to 11 million common shares.

Mr. Perelman, who originally sold 30 percent of the company in an initial public offering in 1991, plans to purchase the additional 20 percent-stake through his New Marvel Holdings Inc. subsidiary. The unit currently owns about 60 percent of Marvel.

James T. Conroy, special counsel for MacAndrews and Forbes, declined to comment on why Mr. Perelman was acquiring the additional stake except to say that "Marvel is an excellent investment."

A full proxy, which is expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of the week, will have more details on the offer, Mr. Conroy said. Shares of Marvel were up $4.25, closing at $23.75 yesterday.

Many analysts don't agree about the investment merits of Marvel Entertainment.

As a result of Marvel acquiring Fleer Corp., a marketer of sports picture cards, in October, Marvel now depends on sports card revenue for about two-thirds of its business, said Terrence J. McEvoy, analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott Inc.

"They're buying into a middle of a problem," said Mr. McEvoy, who noted that demand for sports picture cards is on the decline.

Separately, Marvel said yesterday it would have a 46 percent stake in Toy Biz Inc., which would become a Marvel subsidiary. Marvel, Toy Biz and toy creator Avi Arad announced the formation of a new and expanded Toy Biz.

Marvel said it would contribute its "master toy license" and a working capital investment, and Toy Biz would contribute all of its assets to the new company.

Isaac Perlmutter, owner of Toy Biz, would become the chairman of the New Toy Biz and Mr. Arad would develop toys for the new company, said Marvel.

Both companies, which have signed definitive agreements, said the transaction was subject to approval by antitrust regulators and Marvel's banks, expected within 30 days.

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