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CLASSIC MEDIA BUYS 60% OF HARVEY ENTERTAINMENT.

Byline: Jesse Hiestand Staff Writer

Mr. Magoo may have trouble seeing them, especially Casper the Friendly Ghost, but the nearsighted bumbler has a new set of comic character friends under a stock and cash deal between The Harvey Entertainment Co. and New York investors.

Los Angeles-based Harvey, home to Casper, Richie Rich, Baby Huey and other characters, on Friday concluded a four-month search for a much-needed cash infusion by announcing it had sold a 60 percent stake to Classic Media LLC.

Classic Media, based in New York and headed by former Golden Books chief Eric Ellenbogen, brought to the table Mr. Magoo, $26 million cash and other equities, said Harvey spokesman David C. Collins.

``Harvey had all these great characters and no resources to move them forward into entertainment projects,'' Collins said. ``This deal puts in a new character as well as the cash to develop projects and leverage these characters.''

In all, eight companies made investment offers to Harvey Entertainment, leading the company to announce earlier this month that it had hired Houlihan Valuation Advisors to evaluate the proposed deals.

Classic Media is a new company engaged in managing entertainment properties. Investors in its deal with Harvey Entertainment include Hollywood veterans Frank Biondi and Steve Tisch.

Ellenbogen declined to comment on the investment Friday, citing securities regulations governing pending deals.

In a company release, Ellenbogen said Harvey Entertainment's classic character library perfectly complements his company's focus on family and kids entertainment.

The two companies hope to close the deal by the end of the year.

So far, Harvey Entertainment has signed a letter of intent for Classic Media to invest $26 million cash and all outstanding stock of its UPA Industries Inc. (owner of Mr. Magoo) in exchange for a new $30 million issue of 7 percent cumulative convertible preferred stock of Harvey Entertainment.

Classic Media will also get warrants to purchase additional shares of Harvey common stock and restructure Harvey's existing preferred stock.

The letter of intent provides for a due diligence period after which Classic Media must decide whether to follow through with the investment or withdraw its offer.

``Our board of directors felt that this proposal represented the best combination of capital, new management expertise and likelihood of consummation,'' Harvey's chairman and chief executive officer Roger A. Burlage said.

No indication was made whether Harvey Entertainment will retain its name and

current management.

Harvey Entertainment manages and exploits hundreds of branded characters through merchandising and licensing. It also has a library of more than 150 B-movies and 165 television episodes, including 91 episodes of Harvey Classic animation.

Harvey is also involved in producing and distributing motion pictures and television programs through its PM Entertainment subsidiary.

The company plans to release the animated direct-to-video ``Casper's Haunted Christmas'' through United Home Video on Oct. 31. It is also slated to air on network television in November.

Harvey's stock rose 0.188 to 2.94 on volume of 113,700 on the Nasdaq Friday.

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Photo: (color) no caption (Mr. Magoo, Casper the Friendly Ghost, money)
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 26, 2000
Words:509
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