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MHE To Sell Its Hi-Tops Label To Focus On Film

Media Home Entertainment has put its Hi-Tops kidvid label on the block. The asking price, according to one source, is $5 million.

In a prepared statement, MHE cited its “increased direction toward feature production” as the reason it plans to sell Hi-Tops. MHE recently announced a film co-financing agreement with Britain’s Rank Films and Japan’s Gaga Communications.

The company has been redefining itself for about a year and a half, having changed its top management, consolidated divisions and restructured its sales and marketing operations.

In a recent development, the company laid off about a third of its 75 employees following the completion of a four-year theatrical, video and tv distribution deal with 20th Century Fox; the deal will see MHE’s product released on video through CBS/Fox Video.

Hi-Tops was created as a separate division of MHE in 1986, and is headed by veeps Wendy Moss and Nancy Steingard, who came from the Family Home Entertainment label of Intl. Video Entertainment (now Live Home Video). Starting with a $100 million acquisition fund, Hi-Tops was able to snag some sought-after programs including “Teddy Ruxpin,” “Barbie And The Rockers,” “Peewee Herman,” “Snoopy Home Video Library,” “Stories To Remember” and “Baby Songs.”

In its heyday, Hi-Tops sales were about $20 million. At one time, Hi-Tops reportedly was second only to Disney in sales of children’s programming on video. Sales have fallen off in recent years, and Moss departed the company to head up homevideo operations at Hanna-Barbera.

Hanna-Barbera is, in fact, one of the companies rumored to be reviewing Hi-Tops assets. Also said to be taking a look is Strand VCI Entertainment. Officials at neither company would confirm.

One factor in the sale of Hi-Tops is bound to be the assignment of certain rights to budget supplier Video Treasures about a year ago.

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