Jim Hensons Muppets now back in the family
Five Henson children buy back the company their father founded
May 7, 2003
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the other Muppets—the “marionette puppets” created by puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson—are returning home after years abroad.
According to media reports, German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG has agreed to sell Jim Henson Co., the producer of the Muppets, to the children of their creator for $89 million. Henson, who created the puppets and performed and voiced several of the characters, died in 1990.
EM.TV bought the Jim Henson Co. from the Henson family for $680 million in March 2000 at the height of the stock market bubble. Since then, it has sold off parts of the company, including the Sesame Street characters and its stake in the childrens networks Odyssey, Noggin, and Kermit.
The sale of the 45-year-old company returns it to Jim Hensons five children: Brian, Lisa, Cheryl, John, and Heather. All five siblings will serve on the companys board, and two—Brian and Lisa—will be actively involved in managing the company.
In a statement on the companys web site, Brian Henson said, “I am absolutely thrilled that Lisa, Cheryl, John, Heather and I will acquire the company our father founded some 45 years ago. This has been a very challenging period for The Jim Henson Company. But the company has achieved some great things over the past few years, continues to have great assets and, we firmly believe, has great potential. Our commitment, as the Jim Henson Company’s new owners and as Jim Henson’s children, is to preserve and enhance those assets, fully realize that potential, and thereby honor our father’s legacy.
“In the months and years ahead, we will be actively exploring new and expanded strategic relationships to help us continue to carry out the company’s mission: making the world a better place by inspiring people to celebrate life.”
The Henson family will pay $78 million in cash for the characters, the TV and motion picture production companies and the special effects unit known as the Creature Shop. EM.TV will keep Henson Co.s current liquid assets of $11 million.
Jim Henson, who was born in 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi, created his trademark puppets nearly fifty years ago for a five-minute late-night puppet show on a local television station. His fur-and-foam creatures gained popularity in commercials and appearances on variety shows, but their big break came in 1969 with the premier of Sesame Street. Henson himself performed and voiced his most famous creature, Kermit the Frog, whose namesake was one of Hensons childhood friends in Leland, Mississippi.
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