|Playboy founder Hugh Hefner already controls 70 percent of Playboy’s voting shares and wants to buy the rest.|
NEW YORK — The owner of Penthouse magazine made a formal, competing bid for the Playboy empire yesterday, despite founder Hugh Hefner’s insistence he does not intend to sell the company and instead wants to buy the shares he doesn’t already own.
Penthouse’s corporate parent, FriendFinder Networks Inc., said it will offer $210 million for Playboy Enterprises Inc. The bid comes just days after Hefner proposed to buy out those remaining shares and take the company private in a deal that would value the company at $185 million.
The catch: Hefner already owns nearly 70 percent of Playboy’s voting shares. “If he doesn’t want to sell, there’s no deal,’’ RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank said.
Playboy said its board will give FriendFinder’s offer “appropriate consideration.’’
Playboy’s stock price has tumbled since hitting a peak in 1999 of more than $32. It traded between $2.30 and $5.22 over the past year before jumping on news of Hefner’s offer. It rose 1 cent yesterday to $5.52.
The company’s namesake magazine has struggled with competition from the Web, losing readers and advertisers. It has tried to make up for a declining print business by licensing its brand and iconic bunny ears for consumer products.
Marc Bell, FriendFinder’s chief executive, said his company can help build Playboy’s brand online by directing traffic to it from the company’s other sites.