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Playboy Enterprises hires banker for possible sale

USA TODAY USA TODAY 25/03/2016 Marco della Cava

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Playboy, the magazine and business enterprise long synonymous with founder Hugh Hefner, may soon begin a new chapter under new management.

Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises has retained boutique investment bank Moelis & Co. to advise it on a potential sale that could fetch more than $500 million for the magazine and its bunny-branded licensing assets, according to a person close to the situation who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Moelis & Co. declined to comment on the news, which was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Talk of deals comes at a time when Playboy continues to struggle for a financial and cultural footing after a heyday in which the magazine pushed the boundaries of sexual mores while publishing articles by the likes of Norman Mailer and interviews with newsmakers such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Kate Moss son the 60th anniversary issue of Playboy magazine© Richard Young/Rex Shutterstock Kate Moss son the 60th anniversary issue of Playboy magazine

But the advent of the Internet cut into the once-dominant magazine format, which led to a drop from a mid-'70s circulation high of 5.6 million to less than a million today. Playboy's various television and online efforts have failed to yield big gains with a digitally oriented audience.

In 2011, Hefner, now 89, took the company private along with private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management in a deal that valued the company at around $200 million. And in January, the famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles went on the market for $200 million with one catch: Hefner gets to live out his life on the property.

For the first time in its 63-year publishing history, the March issue of Playboy did away with fully nude models in a bid to reach a younger demographic. 


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