By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
St. Louis — Looking to diversify its single-product battery business in order to more effectively compete with conglomerates like Gillette, which owns Duracell, Energizer Holdings said it has reached a definitive agreement to purchase the Schick-Wilkinson Sword business from Pfizer. The $930 million deal for the shaving products maker offers Energizer an "attractive business in a category with dollar sales growth and stable margins that leverages our core competencies," said the company. The deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2003, is subject to government and regulatory approvals. Energizer, which has been a single-product company since being spun off from Ralston Purina three years ago, said the transaction would result in a significant reduction in its reported results in the first full quarter following the closing. Energizer had said earlier, it anticipates first quarter 2003 North American sales to be essentially flat year over year.
Lake Mary, Fla.— Accessories maker Recoton has sold the GameShark brand name and GameShark web site to San Diego-based Mad Catz Interactive for $5 million. Net proceeds will be used to pay down debt, said Recoton. The GameShark brand of video game enhancement software and web site had been owned by Recoton subsidiary InterAct. Recoton's video and computer game business had been treated as discontinued operations since Sept. 30. In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, GameShark products generated in excess of $30 million, said Recoton. The deal is part of the company's previously announced plan to reduce overall debt, enhance cash flow and restore profitability. Since December, Recoton has generated net proceeds of about $40 million through the sale of non-strategic assets.
Santa Clara, Calif.— SONICblue, which offers Rio, GoVideo and ReplayTV, could be looking for a buyer. The company, assisted by its financial advisor, is in the process of evaluating available strategic options in light of the amount of debt being carried on its balance sheet. Among the various options authorized for exploration by SONICblue's board is the identification of new financial or strategic partners who might invest in, or acquire, the company, its business units, or assets. SONICblue said the goal of this process is "to clear the way for the company's businesses to continue their strong growth in the market, unburdened by the amount of debt now carried on the company's balance sheet."
Amsterdam, Netherlands— Royal Philips Electronics, which had its credit rating downgraded by Moody's Investor Services earlier this month, has reacted strongly to this action, emphasizing it has reaffirmed its commitment to a $1.06 billion cost-saving program. Philips pointed out it would use cash from operations to cut debt further, after it had reduced the figure by $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter, to $5.6 billion by the end of 2002. Philips said it is on track with its cost-saving plan and had taken steps to reduce its break-even point. It said it was dedicated to maintaining financial standards commensurate with an A-rated company, despite Moody's downgrade to a Baaa1 rating, from A3.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.