Wham-O! Deal closed

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The turnaround boosted Wham-O’s annual sales from $18 million eight years ago to an estimated $80 million in 2005, but Cornerstone negotiators saw plenty of room for more growth. “We are going to give (Wham-O) the octane that it has never had,” said Rybakoff, who represented Cornerstone in the negotiations. “Wham-O is a fantastic international name, but it hasn’t really been sold overseas a lot.” Cornerstone plans to expand into new markets, such as Brazil and South Africa. As part of the international expansion, Cornerstone is negotiating to buy two other toy companies specializing in outdoor recreation, Rybakoff said. He declined to identify the acquisition candidates. Wham-O’s new owners control five Chinese factories with a total of 20,000 to 25,000 workers, providing ample manpower to increase production of Wham-O’s toys, which include Superball, Boogie Board, Hacky Sack, Silly String and Water Wiggle. SAN FRANCISCO – Wham-O Inc., the maker of vintage toys including the Frisbee, Slip ‘N Slide and Hula Hoop, has been sold to a Hong Kong distributor that’s trying to build a one-stop shop for outdoor fun. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Cornerstone Overseas Investment Limited is paying less than the $80 million price that the previous owner, the Charterhouse Group, sought when it put Wham-O on the sales block in 2004, said James Rybakoff, an investment banker representing Cornerstone. The deal closed last week, but wasn’t announced until Thursday. Cornerstone is run by Jeff Hsieh, who recently ended a 4-year partnership with Marvel Entertainment Inc. Wham-O, based in Emeryville, Calif., was acquired in 1997 by Charterhouse, which paid $20 million and hired new management to revive a venerable toy line that had been neglected during the three years the company was owned by industry giant Mattel Inc. “Our brands aren’t considered hot because they are so old, but they are still cool,” said Mojde Esfandiari, Wham-O’s president. She hopes to double Wham-O’s sales during the next two to three years under Cornerstone’s ownership. This marks the fourth change in Wham-O’s ownership since Rich Knerr and Spud Melin founded the company in 1948. Wham-O became ingrained in pop culture a few years later when it bought the rights to the Pipco Flying Saucer, which was later named the Pluto Platter and finally became the Frisbee brand in 1958. Although Esfandiari will remain Wham-O’s president, Cornerstone plans to bring in a new chief executive within the next six months, Rybakoff said. Most of Wham-O’s 300 workers are expected to be retained. Cornerstone is run by Hsieh, who recently ended a 4-year partnership with Marvel Entertainment Inc. that required him to pay a minimum of $20 million for the licensing rights to toys based on comic-book heroes including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Captain America. Marvel canceled its contract with Hsieh’s Toy Biz Worldwide a year before its scheduled December 2006 expiration to clear the way for a new $205 million licensing deal with Hasbro Inc. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more