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Lampoon Not Amused--Rejects Takeover Bid

November 27, 1986|THOMAS B. ROSENSTIEL | Times Staff Writer

National Lampoon Inc., the company that brought America the movie "Animal House," is a takeover target.

The company on Wednesday rejected an unsolicited takeover bid valued at $6.4 million from Vestron Inc., a Stamford, Conn., company involved in videocassette, film and television distribution.

"As far as we're concerned, the company is worth far more," said National Lampoon Chairman Matty Simmons, who founded the concern in 1970 after licensing the name from the Harvard Lampoon.

Vestron said its offer was "friendly" but has not ruled out any response now that it has been rejected. "We are considering all our alternatives," Vestron spokesman Don Galletly said.

A takeover, however, was one alternative Simmons had not expected, despite the company's stock selling for just $3.50 a share and the last profitable year coming in 1981.

Simmons said Vestron Chairman Austin Furst, whom he knows, asked him to have a drink Tuesday night and at that meeting "he handed me a written proposal to buy the company."

Simmons, once dubbed the "William Randolph Hearst of Comedy" by his sometimes less than admiring staff, was not amused. National Lampoon's board rejected the bid Wednesday morning.

National Lampoon's best years came in the 1970s, when Richard Nixon lived in the White House and political satire was popular stuff, Simmons said. In 1974, the National Lampoon monthly magazine's circulation neared 900,000.

In 1978, Lampoon entered the film business with the hit movie "Animal House."

But during Ronald Reagan's presidency, whether by coincidence or not, National Lampoon's annual reports have contained fewer laughs. Last year, the company lost $750,000 on revenue of roughly $8 million. So far this year, the company has lost $500,000.

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