Firm acquires Costa Mesa's Paul Frank

Haim Saban, a Los Angeles billionaire, announced this week that his Saban Capital Group and its affiliate Saban Brands was acquiring Costa Mesa-based Paul Frank Industries, a nearly 15-year-old licensing and retail operation.

The deal includes the whimsical Julius the monkey icon that adorns apparel and accessories, and about 150 other characters.

The two companies declined to provide financial details, although the purchase price was reported by the New York Post to be about $50 million.

This was the second major purchase for Saban during the last four months. As part of its quest to bulk up on novel brands, Saban Capital bought back the rights to the kids TV show "Power Rangers" from the Walt Disney Co. in May in a transaction worth about $100 million. Saban Capital has set up a fund of $500 million to make acquisitions.

The Paul Frank Industries' soft characters, which largely appeal to young children and mothers, complement the more potent Power Rangers, said Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands.

The two companies began talks earlier this year.

"We think this was certainly an iconic brand with cross-generational appeal and it became available," Saban said in an interview. "We think we can bring significant added value and build the brand going forward."

Saban and his team believe they can make Julius an even bigger media star, particularly in foreign markets.

"If you ask me if there is going to be a Julius cartoon show, I would say I don't know, but we will look at all of the potential media platforms for all of the characters," Saban said.

Ryan Heuser will continue on as the chief creative officer of Paul Frank Industries, and the company will keep its nearly 20-member creative team at the company's current headquarters in Costa Mesa.

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