Playboy Enterprises announced on Tuesday that its board of directors has formed a special committee to evaluate the offer founder Hugh Hefner made last month to take the company private.
The special committee is actually just two people — Sol Rosenthal, an arbiter and counsel at Los Angeles-based Arnold & Porter law firm, and Shing Tao, chairman and chief investment officer at Pacific Star Partners, a private investment group.
The board cautioned that “no decisions have been made by the board of directors or the special committee” to the Hefner proposal.
On July 9, Hefner offered $5.50 per share to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Class A and Class B common stock of PEI he doesn’t already own. Hef’s bid values Playboy at $185 million.
The move prompted Penthouse and Friendfinder Networks chief Marc Bell to make a counteroffer — worth $25 million more than Hef's — for the outstanding shares, setting off a war of words between the adult media moguls.
"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."
Hefner then 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."