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Jakks Pacific Acquires Berk, Maker of Oversize Foam Toys

June 29, 1999|STEPHEN GREGORY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Jakks Pacific Inc., developer and distributor of a popular line of toy action figures patterned after stars from the World Wrestling Federation, plans to announce today that it has acquired Ontario-based Berk Corp., which makes and sells foam toy mats, blocks and puzzles for children.

Terms of the deal, which was finalized Monday after six months of talks, were not disclosed. Privately held Berk, founded two decades ago, is considered the leading producer of the spongy, oversize foam toys--many of which feature globally recognized, licensed characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Barney.

Jakks President Stephen Berman said Berk's collection of these and other licenses, which include Teletubbies and Looney Tunes, was among the company's main selling points for Malibu-based Jakks.

Berman, who would not reveal Berk's annual revenue, said all of Berk's licensing agreements have been transferred to Jakks. Berk founder and Chief Executive Jackson Lai could not be reached for comment.

Jakks has grown markedly since its founding four years ago, mostly because of the popularity of the wrestling figures and its lines of die-cast cars and child development toys. In its most recent quarter, the company posted revenue of $25 million, a nearly 60% jump over the year-ago quarter.

Jakks shares rose 63 cents to close at $28.25 on Nasdaq. The stock has risen 182% since January.

Berman predicts that the Berk line will be a strong component of growth at the company.

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