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Entertainment arm in crosshairs of Hasbro review

MIchael Flaherty
Aug 22, 2022
Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

The state of Hasbro's strategic and operational review under new CEO Chris Cocks got some revived attention over the weekend when Bloomberg reported that the company was considering "the sale or restructuring" of its entertainment assets.

Why it matters: The future of Hasbro's entertainment arm, formed via its ill-timed $3.8 billion purchase of Entertainment One in 2019, has come under scrutiny this year on the back of two activist investor campaigns.

Catchup quick: Investor Alta Fox called for Hasbro to separate its Wizards of the Coast unit from eOne, while activist hedge fund Ancora Advisors said the company should put the entire eOne division up for sale.

  • Both called for a board shake-up, and Alta Fox took its proxy fight all the way to the June shareholder vote.
  • Hasbro fended off Alta Fox's director slate, but its shares have lagged ever since the win.

What they're saying: Hasbro said in April that new CEO Cocks and his management team had launched a "comprehensive review of our strategy and operations," a move the company dubbed "Focus and Scale."

  • The announcement of the review naturally added greater attention on what would happen to eOne and other parts of the company, as it looked to focus the business.

Details: Bloomberg reported Sunday that Hasbro has considered two options for its entertainment assets: "take the existing staff and redirect it to make branded entertainment (think 'Peppa Pig' movies), and shut down work on projects like 'Yellowjackets' and 'Designated Survivor.' Or it can sell everything it doesn't want."

  • From a Hasbro spokesman: "Entertainment is a core foundation of Hasbro. As part of our strategic review process, we are always open to new and better ways to tell stories and bring people together through the power of play via our world-class family of brands."

The intrigue: Hasbro announced last week that Darren Throop, president and CEO of eOne, would step down later this year.

The bottom line: "Hasbro is just the latest in a long line of companies to arrive in Hollywood with big dreams, only to realize that producing entertainment is both more expensive and less glamorous than most people realize," Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw writes.

Go deeper: Hasbro plans to make a lot more video games

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