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Media Exec Ynon Kreiz Named CEO of Mattel

Struggling toy-maker Mattel has appointed Ynon Kreiz, former CEO of Disney’s Maker Studios, as its new chief executive officer.

He takes over as Mattel’s CEO effective April 26, 2018. Kreiz replaces Margo Georgiadis, named CEO in February 2017, who will “pursue a new opportunity in the technology sector.” Georgiadis will serve in an advisory role at Mattel through May 10.

“Mattel is an iconic company with many of the world’s most beloved brands and greatest toy franchises,” Kreiz said in a statement. “I am excited by the opportunity to lead the company towards its next phase of transformation and restore Mattel to a high-performing toy company.”

Kreiz joined Mattel’s board of directors in June 2017. As previously announced, he also will become chairman of the board, effective upon his election at the annual shareholders meeting May 17.

Kreiz is the former chairman and CEO of Maker Studios, acquired by Disney in 2014, and exited the YouTube-oriented digital content network in January 2016. Disney ended up paying $675 million for Maker — below the $950 million maximum potential price tag — and Maker is now part of the media conglomerate’s new Direct-to-Consumer and International business segment headed by Kevin Mayer.

From 2008-11, he served as chairman and CEO of Endemol Group, one of the world’s largest independent TV production companies, and before that was a general partner at venture-capital firm Balderton Capital (formerly Benchmark Capital Europe) from 2005-07. Earlier in his career, Kreiz co-founded and was chairman/CEO of Fox Kids Europe, which distributed pay-TV channels in 50-plus countries.

Mattel’s well-known brands include Barbie, American Girl, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels. The El Segundo, Calif.-based company has suffered financial declines over the last several years. For the full-year 2017, net sales declined 11%, to $4.88 billion, and it posted a net loss of $1.05 billion (versus net income of $318 million in 2016).

As of Dec. 31, 2017, Mattel had a total of 28,000 employees — down 12.5% from 32,000 a year earlier.

“Ynon has tremendous expertise across areas critical to our strategy, including digital, media and entertainment, and we have already benefitted from that experience and his compelling vision for the company since he became a director,” said Christopher Sinclair, executive chairman and former CEO, in a statement. Sinclair, who last year announced plans to retire, will exit the exec chairman post with Kreiz’s chairman appointment.

Kreiz, 53, also serves on the board of Warner Music Group and is a member of the advisory board of UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Tel Aviv University and an MBA from the Anderson Graduate School of Management.

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