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Coke Will Buy Merv Griffin Enterprises

February 19, 1986|NANCY YOSHIHARA | Times Staff Writer

In a move to add popular television game shows to its entertainment group, Coca-Cola said Tuesday that it has agreed in principle to acquire Merv Griffin Enterprises, the Los Angeles-based producer of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy."

Terms of the deal call for Coca-Cola to pay an undisclosed amount of cash to privately held Merv Griffin Enterprises, which is owned principally by entertainer Merv Griffin. The sale is subject to a definitive agreement, regulatory review and approval by the board of directors of Coca-Cola.

Asked why Merv Griffin Enterprises decided to sell, Murray Schwartz, president and chief executive, said: "It was the best way for us to maximize on our financial position."

The purchase will put Coca-Cola in the lucrative game-show business for the first time. The Atlanta-based soft-drink company, which began a diversification move into the entertainment business with the purchase of Columbia Pictures Industries in 1982, also owns Embassy Television, Embassy Home Entertainment and a 25% interest in Tri-Star Pictures.

"Wheel of Fortune," which was created by Griffin, is the most widely watched and most successful show in the history of syndicated television. It alone had profits of nearly $70 million last year. "Jeopardy" is the second most popular syndicated game show.

Merv Griffin Enterprises also produces the "Merv Griffin Show" and "Dance Fever."

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