UPDATE 1-Hasbro to acquire game-maker Cranium for $77.5 mln

Fri Jan 4, 2008 11:55am EST

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By Mark McSherry

NEW YORK Jan 4 (Reuters) - Hasbro Inc HAS.N, the world's second-largest toy and game company, said on Friday it agreed to acquire board game maker Cranium Inc for about $77.5 million.

The acquisition of privately held Cranium will add to a Hasbro games portfolio that already includes Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit.

The price may be adjusted based on Cranium's net assets on the closing date, Hasbro said. The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2008.

"This acquisition is consistent with Hasbro's ongoing strategy to bring to market the most innovative toy and game brands in the world," said Brian Goldner, chief operating officer for Hasbro.

Seattle-based Cranium was co-founded in 1998 by Scottish entrepreneur Richard Tait and business partner Whit Alexander, who met while working at Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).

Wachovia Capital Markets analyst Tim Conder said Cranium is a strong brand and estimated it has revenues of at least $100 million.

In a research note, Conder said his firm believes Hasbro will leverage Cranium games into its licensing agreement with Electronic Arts Inc ERTS.O.

Hasbro and Electronic Arts said in August they forged a licensing agreement to create electronic versions of some of Hasbro's most popular games, including Monopoly and Scrabble.

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The price paid by Hasbro would be divided between repayment of Cranium's outstanding debt and payments to Cranium's shareholders.

Cranium co-founder Tait said in a telephone interview that he and Alexander would stay on at Cranium for a while to help with the transition and then eventually pursue new ventures.

"Hasbro gave us an opportunity to take the brand much more global," said Tait. "Their organizational and distribution depth in the United States and internationally is a great opportunity for us both."

Asked what he would do next, Tait said: "I certainly have a lot of ideas -- that's my job." (Additional reporting by Brad Dorfman, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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