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Mattel Beats Hasbro in Battle for Foreign Rights to Scrabble

July 12, 1994

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) _ Mattel to Hasbro: Y-O-U L-O-S-E.

Mattel Inc., best known for Barbie dolls, has outbid rival toymaker Hasbro Inc. for a controlling interest in the British board game producer J.W. Spear & Sons. That gives Mattel the rights to market the Scrabble board game outside North America.

Mattel, based in the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo, announced late Monday that it acquired commitments for more than 50 percent of Spear’s shares. It said Spear’s board had endorsed Mattel’s offer, worth $18.05 per share at Monday’s pound-to-dollar exchange rate.

Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, R.I., had bid $17.27 per share.

As a result of its loss, Hasbro will sell its 26 percent stake in Spear to Mattel and retain the rights to market Scrabble domestically. Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness said Tuesday that it made no sense for his company to bid higher.

″We’re happy to control Scrabble throughout North America, and we’re happy we made a nice profit from our investment in Spear,″ he said.

Scrabble is booming in new markets such as Eastern Europe and Turkey. About 3.5 million copies of Scrabble sold worldwide last year, about half of them in the United States and Canada.

Mattel already owns Uno, the world’s top-selling table game. It is low- priced, however, leaving Mattel with a weak share of the overall market, spokesman Glenn Bozarth said.

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