4Kids Entertainment (NYSE: KDE), the NYC-based kids entertainment media firm, has put itself up for sale, paidContent has learned. The company is going through a selective bidding process, and speaking to a few interested parties, according to a source familiar with the situation. 4Kids, founded in 1970 as Leisure Concepts Inc, is one of the larger owners, licensees and distributors of children’s TV in U.S., and is known for brands such as the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Japanese anime franchises, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Cabbage Patch Kids. It also has a kids trading cards business, which is HQed in San Diego, and owns a stake in TC Digital, the operator of the popular Chaotic trading card games and the website.
Until late last year it also ran two programming blocks on TV: the CW4Kids on The CW and 4Kids TV on FOX stations, but the latter ended in December. Since then, it has started an online site 4Kids.TV, where it streams full episodes of its shows. In 2006, 4Kids and *Microsoft* signed a deal to license children’s video games for the Xbox 360. (More about the company on Wikipedia.)
The company went through a 15 percent staff reduction last year to cut costs. Its stock price has been steadily declining for the last year or so, and has a market cap of less than $25 million now. Its revenues dropped to $10.5 million for Q109, compared to $15 million in Q108. With heavy competition from the likes of *Disney*, Turner and Nickelodeon, and the loss of Fox’s contract, the going has been tough for the company, and as PE and strategic players who value content libraries have been looking at the landscape, this might be as best a time as any for the company to sell, the thinking goes. Company’s response: “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”