Can $100 Million and a Crowd-Funding Campaign Save Toys ‘R’ Us?
The head of the company that created Bratz dolls and Little Tikes is putting $100 million toward a long-shot bid to save Toys “R” Us.
MGA Entertainment Inc. Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian is aiming to buy the toy-store company’s assets as part of an investment group that includes a crowd-funding campaign. He said it’s his own money on the line, and MGA isn’t part of the bid. If he’s successful, the executive expects that 200 to 400 U.S. stores can be saved.
“There is a lot of value in the Toys ‘R’ Us name, a lot of value in all the assets that they have,” Larian said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “If Toys ‘R’ Us is not here, I think the toy business as a whole will have a devastating year — this year and the following year.”
Larian’s push to help the toy retailer survive liquidation includes a bid that a group of investors made for the Canadian assets of Toys “R” Us last week. He and other investors also launched a campaign on GoFundMe for the purchase of U.S. assets from the company. Their goal is to raise $1 billion by Memorial Day.
The bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation of Toys “R” Us has bludgeoned toymakers, which stand to lose a key distribution channel and platform to test new products. Mattel Inc.’s stock has lost about 47 percent of its value in the last 12 months, with Hasbro Inc. slipping more than 14 percent over the same period. MGA, based in Van Nuys, California, is privately held.
Amazon.com Inc. is also said to be considering buying some of the stores in a move to expand its retail footprint and showcase hardware like the Echo line of devices. The liquidating company filed for bankruptcy in September and has struggled to find bidders for other assets.
Toys “R” Us has about $5 billion of outstanding debt — a fact that has complicated efforts to rescue the chain. The debt load is the legacy of a leveraged buyout in 2005 in which Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust took the retailer private.