Friend Finder hires adviser for Playboy bid

By Tribune staff report
Posted July 15, 2010 at 8:09 a.m.

Friend Finder Networks Inc., the owner of Penthouse magazine, said this morning it has hired Imperial Capital LLC as financial advisor in its effort to buy Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

FriendFinder is a rival suitor in the effort to take over Playboy. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner earlier this week offered Playboy’s board $5.50 a share to buy the remaining stake of Playboy he does not own in a private takeover of the iconic company.

Faced with a sagging stock price and building pressure from Wall Street, Hefner startled the media world Monday by announcing a bid to reassert control Playboy, the struggling Chicago-based adult publishing empire he founded in 1953.

Hefner’s proposed deal to buy all the outstanding shares Hefner doesn’t already own would be financed by a Michigan-based private equity fund called Rizvi Traverse Management LLC and would value Playboy at about $185 million, or 40 percent more than it was trading for when the market closed Friday.

It’s possible other suitors could emerge. Marc Bell, chief executive of FriendFinder, which owns dating Web sites and the rival Penthouse adult franchise, has been preparing a bid.

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