EW Scripps (NYSE: SSP), which said in late February that it was putting its United Media character licensing business up for sale, has now sold those operations to Iconix Brand Group for $175 million in cash. The deal means Iconix will take over the licensing of brands, such as “Peanuts” and “Dilbert,” to product manufacturers. Already, Iconix owns (and licenses) brands including London Fog, Starter and Joe Boxer. The company was also circling Playboy last fall, although its talks to buy that business fell through.
When it put the business up for sale, EW Scripps said it was trying to capitalize on “recent interest and activity in the market for character-based properties.” In a release, EW Scripps says the move will allow it to “focus on being an innovative leader in the rapidly evolving news industry.” EW Scripps, which owns 10 TV stations as well as several newspapers, is holdng on to its syndication business, so it will continue to syndicate cartoon strips, including “Peanuts” and “Dilbert.” More details in the release.