Iconix Brand Group: The Year Ahead

Company chief executive officer Neil Cole is sure to be in the thick of the M&A scene this year.

Few companies are as adept at sniffing out acquisition opportunities as Iconix Brand Group Inc. — and company chief executive officer Neil Cole is sure to be in the thick of the M&A scene this year. Most recently, he was in hot pursuit of the Playboy brand, but a deal did not come to fruition.

Last year, Iconix closed on two big acquisitions in the streetwear market, purchasing stakes in Marc Ecko and Ed Hardy. In October, the company bought a 51 percent interest in a joint venture that owns the Marc Ecko brand, with 49 percent retained by brand founders Marc Ecko, Seth Gerszberg and Marci Tapper. Iconix paid $63.5 million in cash for its share, and the joint venture also took on $90 million in debt to repay loans owed by the original Ecko partners.

In May, Iconix bought 50 percent of Hardy Way, owner of the Ed Hardy trademarks, for $17 million.

The company owns 21 fashion and home brands, including Candie's, Badgley Mischka, Rocawear, London Fog, Mossimo and Ocean Pacific, which together ring up $10 billion in retail sales via a sea of licensing deals.

Last month, Iconix created a subsidiary called Iconix Europe LLC, in a joint venture with London-based The Licensing Co., to expand the presence of its burgeoning brand portfolio in that market. It also has existing partnerships with Novel Fashion for the China market and The Falic Group in Latin America.

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