Talks to sell Playboy Enterprises end

The bunny is staying solo for now.

Iconix Brand Management has ended talks to acquire Playboy Enterprises Inc., according to three people familiar with the situation.

The adult-content producer and magazine publisher has been in talks with two potential buyers for the last year. In recent months, Iconix, which owns and licenses well-known brands such as London Fog, Starter and Joe Boxer, had emerged as the lead bidder in a deal that was expected to be worth more than $300 million.

The decision to sell publicly traded Playboy, which has struggled financially for several years, came down to aging founder Hugh Hefner, who controls 70% of the voting stock.

Iconix’s main interest in Playboy was its brand name, which it hoped to license for consumer products and location-based entertainment.

According to two people close to the deal, Iconix was looking to sell Playboy’s video production and pay-TV assets to stay out of the adult video content business.

The other main sticking point was what role would be played by Hefner, who is not involved in day-to-day management but is Playboy’s public figurehead and serves as chief creative officer and editor in chief of its magazine.

Though talks with Iconix have ended, the people said, there is still a chance they could resume. For now, Chief Executive Scott Flanders, who took over this year from Hefner’s daughter, Christie, will continue his efforts to turn around the ailing company.

Times staff writers Meg James and Claudia Eller contributed to this report.