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Toy executive Isaac Larian ends pursuit of merger with Mattel

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Isaac Larian, chief executive of MGA Entertainment Inc., in Van Nuys, Calif., said he has given up on his pursuit of merging with Mattel.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

California toy mogul Isaac Larian said Tuesday he’s no longer interested in trying to merge his company with struggling Mattel Inc.

Larian’s comments came one week after he disclosed that Mattel had again rejected a second merger offer from Larian’s privately held company, Chatsworth-based MGA Entertainment Inc.

“At this time, it is in the best interest of MGAE not to continue forward with a Mattel offer,” Larian said in a statement to The Times.

El Segundo-based Mattel makes the famed Barbie doll along with Fisher-Price toys, Hot Wheels and the American Girl dolls. MGA’s toy brands include LOL Surprise, Little Tikes and the Bratz dolls.

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Larian noted in his statement that Mattel has close to $4 billion in debt and faces “a major legal liability” related to Fisher-Price’s Rock ’n Play Sleeper, which has been linked to the deaths of 30 infants since its introduction a decade ago and is now being recalled. Mattel has said its product was not at fault.

“There is simply too much mess to clean up at Mattel,” Larian said.

Mattel did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But earlier this month its chief legal officer, Bob Normile, wrote to Larian that Mattel’s board had unanimously concluded that Larian’s latest merger proposal was “not in the best interests of Mattel and its shareholders.”

Larian’s offer did not include a specific price for Mattel’s publicly traded stock; he said that would be determined later. But the deal was conditioned on Larian — who has a net worth of $1.1 billion, according to Forbes — becoming Mattel’s chief executive and the resignation of its current directors.

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Mattel last year lost $531 million on sales of $4.5 billion. But the company has said its rebound plans — which include a broader marketing of Mattel’s toy brands along with cost-cutting efforts — are gaining traction.

Mattel’s stock rose 31 cents, or 2.6%, to $12.06 a share Tuesday, giving the company a market value of $4.2 billion.

james.peltz@latimes.com

Twitter: @PeltzLATimes


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