Pubs on Golden pond

Court OKs Random/Classic buy of kidbook co.

HOLLYWOOD — After weeks of wrangling in a Delaware bankruptcy court, Random House and Classic Media won approval Wednesday to buy Golden Books Family Entertainment in a deal worth close to $155 million.

Random House/Classic Media will pay $84.4 million in cash and assume liabilities worth roughly $70 million.

Golden Books filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 4.

The deal, which topped a competing bid from DIC and HarperCollins, unites several familiar children’s brands.

Random House is the largest children’s division in American publishing, controlling such assets as Disney children’s titles, “Star Wars” books for children and the Dr. Seuss library. Classic Media, a New York-based media company run by former Golden exec Eric Ellenbogen, owns such franchises as Richie Rich and Baby Huey. Golden owns characters like Pat the Bunny, Scuffy the Tugboat and the Pokey Little Puppy.

Under the deal, Random House will obtain Golden’s publishing properties, which include storybooks, activity books and novelty items; and Classic Media will obtain Golden’s entertainment assets, including movie, TV and home video libraries.

Branding bonanza

That Golden Book, a company mired in bankruptcy, would arouse such keen interest among media giants like Random House and HarperCollins attests to the premium a consolidated market continues to place on brand-name properties.

As Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum told Daily Variety, “In this ever-changing marketplace, it’s less a question of size than it is a question of quality and diversity of individual titles, editorial programs and publishing brands, all of which will be enhanced by the acquisition.”

HarperCollins is not expected to appeal the decision. “At the right price, this would have been a promising acquisition,” company spokesman Lisa Hurling said Wednesday.

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