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DIC plays new toon

Animator, Bain buy back assets from Disney

HOLLYWOOD –Animation magnet DIC Entertainment has hooked up with Bain Capital to buy its own assets from the Walt Disney Co in a deal worth nine figures.

DIC has been a Disney partner since the studio acquired ABC/Capital Cities in 1995.

DIC chairman and CEO Andy Heyward told Daily Variety that the deal is a “complicated transaction that involved cash consideration as well as licensing other Dic properties in the future.”

The move away from Disney means DIC can develop projects outside of the Mouse House. It also offers the company a variety of distribution outlets.

DIC will continue collaborating with Disney on existing projects, including the development of a sequel to “Inspector Gadget” and work on “Sabrina, the Animated Series” for ABC’s “One Saturday Morning” block. Also ongoing is “Madeline” for the Disney Channel and two animated direct-to-video films for distribution through Buena Vista Home Video. In addition, DIC programming will continue to include a substantial portion of the Toon Disney schedule.

“Bain is a financial alliance for us,” said Heyward. “Disney is a strategic partner. Bain’s interest is to see us maximize the product and grow the business.”

Through the buyout, DIC now independently owns the second largest library of American animation in the world, with more than 2,500 half-hours of programming. Heyward will continue as chairman and CEO of the animation studio.

“DIC and the Walt Disney Co. have enjoyed five exciting years together, but we desired to return to our roots as independent producers of children’s content for the worldwide market,” said Heyward. “While we continue to be a supplier to myriad Disney units, our independence will facilitate a more diversified slate of programming and help build upon our stature as a premiere global supplier of children’s entertainment.”

Joe Pretlow, managing director of Bain Capital, said: “We are excited to partner with Andy and his exceptional management team in acquiring one of the world’s leading children’s content companies. We believe DIC’s strong library and character franchises combined with its exciting slate of new productions will provide the company with substantial growth opportunities and position it as a leading entertainment consolidator.”

DIC is ramping up production to 200 half-hours per year.

Along with “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” a new series in production for PBS, DIC is at work producing four other series.

At Mipcom, DIC recently announced the relaunch of its international sales division and a newly reassembled sales force. The company unveiled a broad slate of animated programming, including its new properties “Super Duper Sumos,” “Salem,” “Action Girls” and “Gadget and the Gadgetinis.”

Headquartered in Boston with offices in New York, San Francisco and London, Bain Capital is a global private equity firm that manages several pools of capital, with over $12 billion in assets under management.

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