Haim Saban makes merch move

Saban Capital commits $500 million to Brands division

Haim Saban is going on a high-end shopping spree.

Saban Capital Group will commit more than $500 million to launch a division dubbed Saban Brands, which plans to acquire entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, celebrity and consumer brands. Elie Dekel, the former head of Fox’s licensing and merchandising division and a longtime Saban lieutenant, will run the unit as prexy.

The goal is to manage high-profile properties and brand names in as many media platforms, venues or product formats as possible.

“As media and consumer options become increasingly fragmented and proliferated, our underlying thesis is that properties that resonate with consumers today will only become more meaningful over time,” Saban Capital chairman Haim Saban said in announcing the launch. “The formation of Saban Brands enables us to utilize our extensive experience to create and grow compelling global properties that reach into every aspect of consumers’ lives through strategic and far-reaching licensing partnerships.”

It’s clear that Saban Brands is ready to pounce on some acquisitions.

“The launch of Saban Brands, with its strategic and operational expertise, becomes an essential component to our aggressive acquisition strategy,” said Adam Chesnoff, Saban Capital Group prexy and chief operating officer.

One company that has been on the block for months that would seem to fit the Saban Brands bill is CKX, the holding entity that owns such disparate properties as “American Idol” and its international offshoots (through its ownership of 19 Entertainment) and the rights to the name and likenesses of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. But there was no immediate word from Saban on specific acquisition targets.

Dekel rejoined Saban’s fold last year after four years as exec veep of licensing and merchandising at Fox, where he steered worldwide product marketing for the studio’s movies and TV shows, including such juggernauts as “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”

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