FINANCE

Toy tycoon submits bid to save Toys ‘R’ Us

BY Marianne Wilson

It’s still a longshot, but some Toys “R” Us stores may live to see another day.

Isaac Larian, the billionaire founder and CEO of MGA Entertainment, whose products include Bratz dolls, Little Tikes and LOL Surprise, put in a formal bid of $675 million to buy 274 U.S. Toys “R” Us’ stores. He also put another $215 million to buy Toys “R” Us’ 82 stores in Canada. The bid comes as the chain is in the process of liquidating its U.S. operations.

The funds to purchase the stores will come from Larian’s own coffers, additional investors and bank financing, the privately held MGA stated. It added that the bid amounts were determined after careful due diligence by Larian, speaking with multiple investors and third-party experts.

Larian’s bid faces several challenges, not the least of which is whether toy brands would want to work with a retail chain that is owned by the CEO of another toy brand. According to the Wall Street Journal, Larian has said he would not be involved in the day-to-day operations of Toys “R” Us if his bid succeeds.

Larian previously had started a campaign on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to raise $1 billion to save the bankrupt chain. The longshot effort brought in pledges for about $200 million.

“Every day that goes by, the value of Toys “R” Us declines and more people lose their jobs,” Larian said. “I did my part and now it’s up to the other side to accept this offer. If they do, the real work will begin.”

Larian shared his vision for the embattled toy retailer, saying the stores would be like a “mini-Disneyland.”

“We will make Toys “R” Us an experience in and of itself; a fun and engaging place where families can spend an entire day,” he said.

In other Toys “R” Us news, the company received a commitment from its Taj noteholder group for $80 million in incremental debtor-in-possession financing to strengthen its liquidity and support the working capital needs of its stores in Asia and Central Europe.

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