GTCR acquires classic cartoon characters

The Chicago-based private equity firm’s $200m acquisition of Entertainment Rights’ subsidiaries gives it control over popular children’s characters like Frosty the Snowman, He-Man and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

GTCR Golder Rauner is investing $200 million for the rights to a number of classic pop culture characters – including Lassie, the Lone Ranger, He-Man and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer – from UK media company Entertainment Rights.

Entertainment Rights acquired such properties when it purchased Classic Media, whose founders are now heading up GTCR subsidiary Boomerang, for $120 million in 2006. However the deal placed a heavy debt burden on the company, which after unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer, named administrators to take control of the company under the Insolvency Act and sold its assets to Boomerang.

GTCR said the $200 million investment – from its $2.75 billion GTCR Fund IX – will in part be used for future copyright deals signed by Boomerang, which was formed in 2008. While GTCR, which has more than $8 billion in capital under investment, invests in variety of sectors including media, most of its deals of late have come in the pharmaceutical arena.

In March the firm exited its investment in Ovation Pharmaceuticals in an all-cash transaction, including payments of up to $900 million, and few days later set up a $200 million pharmaceuticals platform with Abbot Laboratories veteran Ed Fiorentino.