January 16, 2019 / 9:02 AM / 3 months ago

Ardian puts Smurf maker Schleich up for sale - sources

MADRID/FRANKFURT, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Private equity group Ardian is seeking to sell Schleich, the German maker of Smurf figurines as well as plastic animals, dinosaurs, knights and elves, two sources familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

France's Ardian is working with JP Morgan on the sale of the toymaker, which it bought from HgCapital in 2014 in a 220 million euros deal, the sources said.

A deal could value Schleich, founded in 1935, at more than 400 million euros ($456 million) including debt, one of the sources said.

Ardian and JP Morgan declined to comment.

The firm saw revenues rise nine percent to 156 million euros in 2017, selling its figurines in 50 countries with half of the sales still coming from Germany.

Despite recent strong growth, Schleich faces challenges from low-cost Chinese rivals, changes in children's tastes and the rise of electronic toys. ($1 = 0.8769 euros) (Reporting by Andres Gonzalez and Arno Schuetze Editing by Keith Weir)

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