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The Scrabble Scramble : Leisure: Hasbro ups ante by 10% in effort to outbid Mattel for overseas rights to sell the board game.

July 09, 1994|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

U.S. game maker Hasbro Inc. upped the ante Friday in its bid for a worldwide monopoly to sell the board game Scrabble.

Hasbro, which owns U.S. rights to the game, offered to pay 10% more than El Segundo-based Mattel Inc. has already bid for J.W. Spear & Sons, a British company with the rights to sell Scrabble outside North America.

Hasbro bid $16.50 per share for the 73.3% of J.W. Spear that it does not already own, valuing the takeover target at $86 million.

Mattel had previously bid $15.40 per share and later scored a legal victory when a court rejected Hasbro's claim that the Mattel offer was invalid.

Hasbro had contended the Mattel bid came too late to meet a deadline agreed upon with major J.W. Spear shareholders for accepting an earlier Hasbro offer of $13.50 per share. A judge sided with Mattel and shareholders who said the higher offer was made with minutes to spare.

It was unclear whether Mattel would step in with a higher bid or give up the battle.

"I can only say we are considering our options at this point," said Glenn Bozarth, a spokesman at Mattel's headquarters. The company has until Aug. 5 to make up its mind.

Hasbro owns U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to Scrabble but wants to own all rights to sell the game, which is booming in new markets such as Eastern Europe and Turkey. The Pawtucket, R.I., company already owns 26.7% of J.W. Spear, based in the London suburb of Enfield, and through subsidiaries owns a number of other popular games, including Monopoly.

Mattel earns most of its money from Barbie dolls, miniature cars, Disney toys and Fisher-Price toys for small children, but it wants to expand its business. The company is not yet big in board games and says Scrabble would be a logical fit with its vast international distribution network.

J.W. Spear is reviewing the latest offer, but a spokesman said the company's directors will not immediately make any recommendations on whether shareholders should accept it--in hopes that the bidding could soon go higher.

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