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With Kids Can purchase, Nelvana expands

Buy marks foray into U.S. publishing

TORONTO — Nelvana has acquired the children’s book publishing company Kids Can Press in a deal worth C$6.1 million ($4 million).

Though the acquisition is a small one in dollar terms, it marks a significant strategic shift into the $1.4 billion-per-year North American children’s publishing business for Nelvana.

“We’re producing more animated series than anybody else in the world today,” Nelvana co-CEO Michael Hirsh said.

Best known for ‘Franklin’

Kids Can, which in fiscal 1998 reported revenues of $5.6 million, is best known for its “Franklin” series, of which 16 million books have been sold worldwide.

In 1995, Nelvana picked up the production and merchandising rights to “Franklin” and the series, which was nominated for a Gemini Award last year and is currently in its second year of production.

Englander moves on

Valerie Hussey will stay on as prexy and CEO of Kids Can and has signed a multiyear employment contract, while partner Ricky Englander will move on after a six-month transition period.

Hussey and Englander will receive 90% of the $4.0 million purchase price in cash, and the remaining 10% will be paid through the issuance of Nelvana subordinate voting shares.

The move is the first of a multipart strategy to develop its publishing and merchandising business, said Hirsh. “We’re looking to make other acquisitions in the area — particularly with the direction of growing the business in the United States.”

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