Mattel gears up to buy out Bluebird Toys

Bluebird Toys, the British toy industry’s success story of re-cent years, is understood to be in line for a takeover by US giant Mattel.

The timescale of the deal is unknown but Mattel is favoured suitor because it is in an aggressive acquisitive mood. Since 1993, it has bought toy companies Fisher-Price, Kransco and, most recently, JW Spear. The firm posted a pre-tax profit increase of 38 per cent to $135m (£88.8m), before restructuring charges.

There is already a connection between the two firms as Mattel distributes the Polly Pocket and Mighty Max miniature doll range in the US, two of Bluebird’s most successful products. It has also agreed to take on two of the firm’s latest miniature ranges, called Mimi and Goo-Goos.

Bluebird is in a financially strong position with pre-tax profits expected to be about £19m for 1994 and £23m this year. The company is also expected to have a considerable cash pile, possibly as much as £50m, by 1996.

Chairman Torquil Norman turned Bluebird around in the early Nineties. In 1991, it lost £3.5m after closing a factory and cutting staff. It was then that Bluebird switched its manufacturing to China and focused on building overseas sales. By the end of 1993 it had achieved pre-tax profits of £9.8m.

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