Iconix, the world’s second biggest licensing company, has acquired the licensing rights to E.W. Scripps (aka United Media’s) comic strips, including Peanuts, Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, and many, many others, it was reported today. The price was $175 million. As we reported a few months ago, Scripps, had put its lucrative licensing business on the block, given the problems in their other segments, including the newspaper business. The deal will be a joint venture with the family of Charles Schulz, continuing to get a share of the licensing income from a previous deal.201004271400.jpg   

“The deal may not necessarily transform Iconix but it will certainly diversify the portfolio of the company,” Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater said.

Iconix, which will fund its share of the acquisition with its existing cash balance, said the deal is expected to generate about $75 million in royalty revenue and add 12 cents to 15 cents a share to its earnings, annually.

The company had said last August it planned to spend $300 million to $600 million over 18 months on acquisitions.

Iconix started life as Candies and currently is best known for licensing such brands as London Fog and Joe Boxer. Last year, its licensing revenue was $6.5 billion, so they are certainly aware of the power of building strong brands. The United Media comic strips are their first foray into character licensing, however.

Peanuts retail sales are estimated at $2 billion annually — this is a huge brand.
As we noted when we wrote about the potential sale, Scripps is selling off a lucrative business that has almost no operating costs, (a strategy Marvel has ridden to the top), a somewhat surprising move given the softness of some of its other businesses — i.e. the newspapers that once carried comic strips.