May 28, 2009 / 4:38 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Branson's Virgin does not want to buy Playboy

* Virgin Group statement contradicts Daily Mail report

* Playboy shares up less than 1 pct after falling 8 pct (Adds Playboy comment, background on sale reports)

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK, May 28 (Reuters) - British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group does not want to buy adult entertainment magazine publisher Playboy Enterprises Inc PLA.N, the company said on Thursday.

“Reports that Virgin Group is looking to buy Playboy Enterprises ... are untrue,” said a statement e-mailed by a company spokeswoman.

Virgin made its statement after the Britain-based Daily Mail newspaper reported Virgin was “tipped as a potential buyer.”

Playboy owns one of the best-known adult magazines, but it has suffered financially because of advertising cutbacks and other effects of the recession. It posted a $13.7 million quarterly loss in May on a more than 20 percent revenue decline.

Christie Hefner, daughter of founder Hugh Hefner, resigned as chief executive earlier this year.

Interim Chairman and CEO Jerome Kern said in February the company would be “willing to listen” to suggestions about selling the company or changing the magazine.

The company is shopping itself to potential buyers for $300 million, about three times its market value, the New York Post reported. The Post said Playboy approached several private equity firms, including Apollo Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners, but got no interest.

Hugh Hefner, 83, controls more than two-thirds of Playboy’s voting stock.

A Playboy spokeswoman declined to comment on the Virgin Group statement.

Playboy shares were up a penny, or less than 1 percent, at $3.12 on the New York Stock Exchange after falling as much as 8 percent earlier in the day. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andre Grenon)

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