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Mattel Reportedly Closing In on a Deal to Sell Learning Co.

September 29, 2000|ABIGAIL GOLDMAN

Mattel Inc., anxious to unload its disastrous Learning Co. division even at a giveaway price, worked late into the night Thursday trying to make a deal with one of two small investment firms, according to sources.

An announcement of a sale of Mattel's interactive division, which could come as early as today, is likely to include news of a major financial restructuring at the El Segundo-based toy company, sources said.

Financial experts speculated that one of the unidentified buyout firms vying for the computer software division could pay a relatively modest amount--perhaps less than $50 million--with the promise that Mattel would share in the proceeds of certain future turnarounds or sales.

In the meantime, Mattel would be able to move the ailing division, which has lost more than $300 million, off of its financial books.

Mattel first said in April that it planned to shed Learning Co., which it had acquired for $3.5 billion a year earlier. At the time, analysts predicted an enormous loss on the purchase, saying the company could at best hope to gain between $200 million and $500 million.

Mattel shares fell 63 cents to $11.63 on Thursday in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after surging $1.63 on Wednesday.

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