Mattel entry spells trouble for Hasbro

June 04, 1994|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Mattel Inc. made a $79 million bid for the British toy maker J. W. Spear & Sons PLC yesterday, topping a six-day-old offer from its rival, Hasbro Inc., in a battle for the international rights to Scrabble.

The bidding pits America's two toy giants against each other for a family-owned company that had $58 million in sales last year from products that include Escape the Blob, Atmosfear, and Doh-nutters. But the squabble is really over Scrabble; Spear owns the rights to it outside North America, and the game accounts for a third of its revenue.

Industry analysts predict the bids will go higher, even though Spear directors gave a limited endorsement yesterday to Mattel's offer over Hasbro's $70.4 million. Only about 20 percent of Spear's stock is owned by the public.

Hasbro acquired Scrabble in the United States in its 1989 acquisition of Coleco Industries.

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