Playboy board to take company private

Deal to close Jan. 21

Wall Street won’t have the bunny to kick around anymore. The board of directors of Playboy Enterprises has agreed to a deal to take the iconic brand private through a partnership run by founder Hugh Hefner, the company said Monday.

Icon Acquisition Holdings will pay $6.15 a share, an 18% premium on Friday’s closing price that values the company at $177 million, to take Playboy private. The deal is expected to close Jan. 21. Hefner said in a statment that being private will give the company new resources and flexibility to expand the brand around the world.

Hefner founded Playboy in 1953 literally from the kitchen table of his Chicago apartment. Playboy went public in 1971. Hefner today controls 70% of the company’s voting shares. The next largest shareholder, Plainfield Asset Management with a 19% stake, supports the plan to go private.

Playboy has struggled for years to re-invent itself for an era when pornography is easily accessible for free online and its magazine and formats seem dated. Scott Flanders, Playboy’s CEO, said the plan is to transform Playboy into a “brand management company.”

Icon is receiving financing from private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management and from Jeffries & Co.

In the past five years, Playboy has gone from a $15 stock to one that trades around $5.