FriendFinder Networks owner Marc Bell submits promised offer
Marc Bell, owner of Penthouse magazine and FriendFinder networks, made his promised bid on Playboy Enterprises on Thursday, offering to pay $210 million for the struggling bunny brand.
Bell's bid is effectively $25 million more than Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's offer for the company.
In making the offer, Bell and Boca, Raton, Fla.-based FriendFinder announced that they have retained Imperial Capital LLC as a financial adviser. (On Monday, Bell told TheWrap he would not need the help of a financial backer because FriendFinder generates enough cash on its own.)
"We are very excited about the prospect for the combination of Playboy Enterprises and FriendFinder Networks," Bell said in a statement. "We look forward to Mr. Hefner and other key members of management being an integral part of the combined companies.”
As expected, Bell used the opportunity to tweak the 84-year-old icon. "We would propose an arrangement where we would partner with Mr. Hefner in our efforts to drive shareholder value," Bell wrote in a letter to Playboy's board. "We envision that following the completion of the proposed transaction, Mr. Hefner would retain editorial control of Playboy Magazine and would be entitled to reside in the Playboy Mansion."
Playboy Enterprises confirmed that it has received Bell's letter and that its board of directors "will give it appropriate consideration."
A representative for Hefner did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.
Earlier in the week, Hefner scoffed at Penthouse's play.
"Penthouse is just looking for publicity," he wrote on Twitter. "They're not in the picture."
Hef added: "Playboy isn't in play. I'm buying, not selling."
On July 8, Hefner offered $5.50 per share in an effort to take Playboy private. (Hef already owns 69.5 percent of the company's Class A common stock and 27.7 percent of its Class B shares.) In making his bid, Hefner said he has the backing of Rizvi Traverse Management, a little-known private equity firm.
Hef’s bid values Playboy at $185 million.
Bell and FriendFinder have proposed a July 21 meeting with Playboy's board to discuss the offer.