The one piece of good news for PEI was that the licensing division revenue was up 23%. This is despite the fact that shops like WH Smiths over here have been withdrawing Playboy branded goods, such as pencil cases, aimed at children.
Playboy Store on Oxford Street
Given its parlous financial state it is something of a surprise, therefore, that Penthouses' owners, FriendFinders Networks Inc., launched a $210 million offer to buy Playboy last month. However, 84 year old Hugh Hefner, who already owns 70% of the shares in PEI and is currently trying to structure a deal to buy the remaining shares and go private once more, says he doesn't want to sell as he is concerned for the future direction and heritage of the magazine. Nevertheless, Playboy's directors have formed a special committe to look at FFNI's bid whilst Hefner's move remains a proposal rather than a formal bid.
Without Hefner agreeing to sell his 70% a deal looks unlikely. In the meantime, Playboy has gone out on a limb to gamble on the fact that there really are people who buy the magazine for the articles by launching a work safe Playboy site (www.thesmokingjacket.com) which has no naked women on it (but plenty in lingerie). Sadly, it is an inferior FHM clone aimed at the 25-35 age group. When is Playboy going to realise that the 40-66 market is largely untapped?