Hasbro Is Looking To Sell eOne, Studio Behind The Woman King And Yellowjackets

Well, well, well, if it isn't another pending sale of a big production company with a big media library. Hasbro, the toy company known for "Monopoly" and "My Little Pony," among many other things, got into the media game in a big way in late 2019 with a flashy $4 billion acquisition of eOne, to give the company in-house ability to turn its properties into movies and TV shows. Now? Hasbro is getting ready to sell eOne after pivoting internally to a new strategy.

In a press release, Hasbro revealed that its board has authorized a sale process for eOne, particularly the TV and film business not directly supporting the company's "branded entertainment strategy." In other words, Hasbro still wants to be able to make stuff connected to its toys, just not through eOne in-house. Chris Cocks, Hasbro's new CEO, had this to say:

"Following our recent Investor Day where we introduced our new branded entertainment strategy, Blueprint 2.0, we received inbound interest from several parties for the part of the eOne television and film business that while valuable is not core to our go-forward strategy. This interest informed our decision to explore a sale process. The acquisition of eOne delivered fantastic talent, top tier production and deal making capability and beloved brands with strong toyetic potential including Peppa Pig. We will retain these terrific capabilities while exploring the best way to maximize the value of the eOne TV & Film Business for the benefit of our shareholders."

Lots to dissect there but the big thing? eONe seems to have attracted interest from buyers. And, let's be honest, 2019, just ahead of the pandemic, was a very bad time to get into the movie and TV production business. So it makes sense that Hasbro might be attracted to an offer.

So, what exactly is Hasbro selling?

Alright, so what exactly is Hasbro selling and why might that be attractive to the right buyer? eOne has been producing hit movies and TV shows for some time, long before the Hasbro purchase. Some recent examples include Showtime's "Yellowjackets" and the Oscar contender "The Woman King." These have absolutely nothing to do with toys, but it's the business Hasbro bought into. So, essentially, Hasbro would be selling eOne's non-Hasbro branded film and scripted TV business, the unscripted division (which works on shows like "Naked and Afraid"), and most importantly, a huge content library with some 6,500 episodes of TV and movies.

Again, so little of this impacts Hasbro's core business. With the company wanting to put more focus on gaming and licensing its biggest IP, why bother with an adult-skewing drama like "Yellowjackets"? Let someone else pay a premium to own it. To that point, big media mergers have become all the rage in recent years in large part thanks to the rise of streaming. Buying a big library is a great way to bolster streaming offerings and/or gain IP to leverage. That makes it easy to believe that Hasbro did indeed receive some calls about eOne.

J.P. Morgan and Centerview Partners have been retained to assist in the sale, though at this time there is no guarantee a deal will close. But interested parties are afoot. Let the bidding war begin.

Hasbro is in control of its own, flexible destiny

Without having to manage an entirely different business, Hasbro can focus on being a toy company with a boatload of attractive IP that other companies will want to license. Granted, under eOne, a "Dungeons & Dragons" movie finally got made in the form of next year's "Honor Among Thieves." Still, Hasbro has "Peppa Pig," "Transformers," "Magic: The Gathering," "My Little Pony, "Power Rangers," "Clue," and "Play-Doh," among others. They don't necessarily need eOne to maximize those properties.

Many of those already have multimedia projects in the works and Hasbro wants to get more into gaming, which is an incredibly lucrative place to be. And they can still make movies like "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" with Universal while working with other studios on other projects. They can be in control of their own destiny, cash a big check for eOne, and control their own destiny moving forward. Though short-lived the eOne deal may have been, it's time for both parties to move on.