German media rights trading company EM.TV & Merchandising AG is selling The Jim Henson Co. back to the Henson family for $89 million. The move was entirely unexpected as both Disney and Sony Pictures had placed bids on the home of The Muppets.
The heirs of the late Jim Henson will pay $78 million in cash and $11 million currently available on the books of The Jim Henson Co. Other provisions of the agreement are not being released. While EM.TV paid $680 million for the company three years ago, it considers the sale a successful step in its restructuring program.
The sale will secure EM.TV’s liquidity, enabling it to make the final payment on a major loan used to purchase half of Junior TV with now-collapsed KirchMedia GmbH.
Completion of the transaction remains subject to the approval of the EM.TV shareholders at its annual general meeting. When the deal is finalized in the coming weeks, The company will fall under the control of Jim Henson’s children, Brian, John, Lisa, Cheryl and Heather.