After a disappointing Q4 and fiscal 2017 report, the board of directors at Canada’s DHX Media has launched a strategic review to examine options for maximizing shareholder value that could result in the sale of the company or a merger with another party.
Coinciding with the review, DHX has formed a special committee of independent directors to explore alternatives chaired by Donald Wright, DHX Media’s lead director and vice chair. The strategic review committee also includes DHX board members Elizabeth Beale and Geoffrey Machum.
No timetable has been announced for the review process and DHX has yet to make any decisions related to strategic alternatives. When contacted by Kidscreen, a DHX representative said the company would not provide any additional details while the review is underway.
In its fiscal 2017 report released on September 28, the company’s revenue declined by 2% to US$239 million from US$244 million in the fiscal 2016 period ending June 30. Its adjusted EBITDA also fell 16% from US$83 million in 2016 to US$70 million in 2017.
In the report, DHX CEO Dana Landry said the declines were partially due to the underperformance of its re-vamped Teletubbies series in the US, which failed to gain traction as a brand.
For the company’s consumer products division, a net loss of US$3 million was reported for fiscal 2017, and DHX also felt the impact of its recent acquisition of the Peanuts and Strawberry Shortcake brands following its purchase of the entertainment division of New York-based Iconix Brand Group. Its year-end results included US$24 million of one-time acquisition and related refinancing costs associated with the deal.
Despite the losses, Landry said both brands are still expected to accelerate the company’s growth plans. In fact, DHX Media subsidiary Peanuts Worldwide, the family of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and Ohio-based regional amusement-resort operator Cedar Fair recently renewed their license agreement to showcase Peanuts characters throughout Cedar Fair’s 11 North American amusement park locations. According to Landry, the integration of Peanuts is on track to achieve US$4 million in targeted, first-year cost synergies.
DHX has high hopes for additional CP growth with new content in production for Strawberry Shortcake, as well as Mega Man, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Little People.
In digital-based positives, revenue for DHX-owned online kids network WildBrain rose 85% to US$27 million in fiscal 2017 with views rising 80% to 11 billion and watch times growing 69% to more than 55 billion.