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Hefner’s Playboy empire records bigger 3Q loss

CHICAGO — Hugh Hefner’s troubled Playboy empire reported a wider loss third-quarter loss than a year ago on Tuesday, saying one-time accounting charges exacerbated another decline in revenue.

The company, Playboy Enterprises Inc., has been struggling with the broader shift of adult content to the Web, which has hurt its iconic magazine and its television properties. Both magazine and TV revenue continued to slip.

Playboy reported a net loss of $27.4 million, or 81 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That included more than $25 million in one-time write-offs on the value of assets on its books. A year ago, the company lost $1.1 million, or 3 cents per share,.

Revenue declined 7 percent to $52.1 million from $56 million.

The latest figures come as the company’s future ownership remains in doubt. FriendFinder Networks Inc., owner of Playboy rival Penthouse magazine and adult websites, wants to buy the company for $210 million. It raised $551 million in debt at the end of last month, a move that could give it the cash to follow through on the bid.

But Hefner, who owns 70 percent of the company’s voting stock, says he has no interest in selling. And he has proposed to the company’s board that he buy out the remaining stake in a deal that would value Playboy at about $185 million. A special committee of the company’s directors is considering the offer.

In the meantime, Playboy’s management is trying to transform the company from a publishing and TV business into a “brand management” company, leaning more on revenue from licensing out the Playboy name and bunny ears for a range of products.

The company’s licensing division grew revenue by 24 percent to $10.9 million in the latest quarter. Its Entertainment division, which includes international and domestic TV properties, saw revenue fall 20 percent to $19.5 million from $24.4 million. And Print/Digital revenue fell 5 percent to $21.7 million from $22.9 million.

Underscoring the shift, Playboy also announced a deal Tuesday to expand to expand a partnership with IMG Worldwide Inc., signing the company as its exclusive agent for licensing Playboy in most product categories in Europe.


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