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Mickey Deals for Muppets

Mickey has finally gotten his his hands on Kermit.

We don’t know whether it makes the company a more tempting takeover target or not, but Disney has just signed a deal to buy the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House properties from The Jim Henson Co. for an undisclosed sum estimated in the neighborhood of $100 million.

Back in 1990, Disney struck a deal to buy the entire Henson company only to have it unravel after the death that year of company founder Jim Henson.

At the time, the deal was valued by analysts at $100 million - $150 million.

The current transaction includes all Muppet assets, the Muppet film and television library, and all associated copyrights and trademarks, as well as all  “Bear in the Big Blue House” characters and related assets.

The parties have signed a binding purchase agreement and expect the transaction to close within two months, subject to regulatory clearances.

The deal does not include the “Sesame Street” characters, such as Big Bird and Elmo, which are separately owned by Sesame Workshop.

The deal also includes non-exclusive production and consulting agreements under which Henson will develop potential new programming featuring the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House for Disney.

The Henson company is now led by Jim Henson’s two children, Brian and Lisa, who serve as co-chairs and co-chief executive officers.

Lisa Henson said the agreement “is the realization of my father’s dream, and ensures that the Muppet characters will live, flourish and continue to delight audiences everywhere, forever.”

A decade after the original Disney-Henson deal fell through, German children’s programmer EM TV bought the entire Henson company for $680 million.

EM TV sold off parts of the company and the Henson family bought back what remained last year.
The purchase price was said to be in the $150 million range. Henson will retain ownership of a bunch of other properties, including "Jim Henson’s Creature Shop," "Fraggle Rock," "Farscape," "Dark Crystal," "Labyrinth," "Storyteller," "The Hoobs," and various other properties.