A string of potential bidders for ailing French toy maker Smoby-Majorette SA have come forward, among them Germany's top toy manufacturer Simba Dickie Group, according to French press reports.
Responding to a Jan. 25 deadline set by French commercial court administrators managing Smoby, Furth, Germany-based Simba Dickie was joined by a financial consortium led by Groupe Abcia of Grenoble, France.
For the bid, Abcia, a holding company with 160 million euros ($235 million) in annual sales, linked up with Paris-based turnaround specialist Caravelle SA, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.
Abcia's holdings include plastics closure molder Manufacture Bourginonne de Plastique of St.-Apollinaire, France.
As many as10 would-be buyers registered an interest in rescuing Smoby, based in Lavans-les-St.-Claude. Three of those bidders are considered serious. Also in the bidding is investment firm Butler Capital Corp. of Hunt Valley, Md., according to the press reports.
The Abcia consortium is believed to be bidding to rescue only parts of the Smoby-Majorette group. These parts include the Smoby doll accessories and play furniture division; operations for Ecoiffier-brand products, including construction sets; and the firm's Berchet early-development toy division.
Meantime, Smoby's current owner, MGA Entertainment, Inc. of Van Nuys, Calif., still has not provided a recovery plan for the indebted toy maker that is acceptable to the commercial court in Lons-le-Saunier, France. In October, the court rejected an MGA rescue plan for Smoby, which has debt of 277 million euros ($388 million), and MGA has failed to overturn that decision on appeal.
MGA is still in talks with Smoby's creditor banks over the group's debt but only partial agreement has been reached regarding a settlement.
MGA bought Smoby in May 2007 for a symbolic 1 euro (about $1.35 at the time). But since last October, day-to-day management of the French firm has been in the hands of court-appointed administrators. MGA, which also makes Bratz dolls and Little Tikes toys, is still majority shareholder of Smoby, Europe's second-ranked toy maker.