Hef Offers to Take Playboy Private; Penthouse Eyes Takeover

Penthouse chief promises own takeover bid as Playboy shares jump

Hugh Hefner wants to take Playboy private.

In a letter to Playboy Enterprises, the magazine's 84-year-old founder offered to buy all of the media company's common stock that he doesn't own for $5.50 per share.

Hef already owns 69.5 percent of the company's Class A common stock and 27.7 percent of its Class B shares.

Hefner said he has the backing of Rizvi Traverse Management, a little-known private equity firm, in the bid.

A Playboy Enterprises spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

Hefner's proposal — worth roughly 40 percent more than the stock was trading at on Friday — values the beleaguered bunny brand at just $185 million.

Playboy said Hefner is "not interested in any sale or merger, selling Hefner's shares to any third party or entering into discussions with any other financial sponsor."

Hefner's letter spurred Marc Bell, chief of Playboy rival Penthouse, to say he intends to make his own offer to Playboy's board in the hopes of buying control of the company away from its iconic founder. (Bell also owns Friendfinder Inc.)

Playboy's stock jumped more than 35 percent during Monday trading on news of a possible sale.

Late last month, Playboy announced a round of corporate layoffs, part of CEO Scott Flanders' plan to restructure Playboy primarily as a brand licensing company.

That strategy isn't without its pitfalls.

Last week, Playboy shut down a Portuguese edition of its magazine after a spread featuring a model depicting Jesus was published.