April 19, 2018 / 8:16 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 3-Mattel names former Maker Studios executive as CEO after Georgiadis quits

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By Aishwarya Venugopal

April 19 (Reuters) - Mattel Inc, which has been trying to revive its tepid sales, said on Thursday its director and former digital media executive Ynon Kreiz will replace Chief Executive Margaret Georgiadis, who has decided to step down after a 14-month tenure.

Kreiz, who is the former head of digital media company Maker Studios that assembled a stable of YouTube stars and was acquired by Walt Disney, will replace Georgiadis effective April 26.

Mattel has faced weak demand in recent years for its well-known products, including Hot Wheels and Barbie dolls, as children increasingly prefer videogames and electronics over traditional toys.

The bankruptcy and liquidation of Mattel's top customer and toy retailer Toys 'R' Us has heaped more pressure on the company and highlighted the troubled retail environment. Mattel's shares have lost nearly half of its value in the past one year.

"I think the high tech experience that Margo had may be wasn't just working out," said Jackie Breyer, Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a trade magazine covering toy industry.

"The news in the industry overall has been bad since she started not entirely on Mattel. I think everyone will be excited about a fresh start."

Georgiadis, who was previously with Google, will serve in an advisory role at Mattel until May 10, after which she will take over the role of chief executive in genealogy website Ancestry.

Under Georgiadis's leadership, Mattel ramped up efforts to cut costs, replaced its veteran finance chief Kevin Farr in September and decided to cut its dividend payout by more than 60 percent.

"Shareholders are going to appreciate it because I don't think a whole lot has been shown to be changed since she started," Breyer said.

The new CEO Kreiz will become chairman of the board after his election at the annual shareholders' meeting slated for May 17, Mattel said.

Mattel is scheduled to release its first quarter results on April 26 and its conference call will be hosted by executives, including Georgiadis.

Shares of the closed down 3.2 percent at $13.45 and were flat in extended trading. (Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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