Playboy, 007’s old ally, may be subject of takeover fight

Playboy magazine and its parent company, Playboy Enterprises Inc., may be the target of a takeover fight. Why should James Bond fans care? Well, the magazine does have a half-century relationship with a certain gentleman agent.

First, the events of July 12 as described by Brett Pulley on Bloomberg.com:

FriendFinder Networks Inc., owner of Penthouse adult magazine, plans to submit a bid for Playboy Enterprises Inc., following a $123 million offer from Playboy’s founder Hugh Hefner.

Things began when Playboy issued a statement. Here’s how Pulley described it:

Hefner plans to offer $5.50 apiece in cash for the Class A and Class B shares, Chicago-based Playboy said in a statement today. Hefner, 84, is partnering with Rizvi Traverse Management LLC for the transaction. The offer, at a premium of more than 30 percent, values Playboy at about $185 million.

It was after that FriendFinder Chief Executive Officer Marc Bell gave interviews (to Bloomberg and elsewhere) that he was looking to counter. To read the entire Bloomberg story, JUST CLICK HERE.

Playboy has had a rough time. Hefner’s daughter, Christie, stepped down as CEO last year and the magazine has had some staff cuts because of declining advertising revenue and circulation. It’s a story that has been repeated at other storied magazines, including Newsweek (currently on the sales block by the Washington Post Co.).

Playboy’s situation is worth noting here because of the ties between the magazine and 007. Playboy published Ian Fleming’s short story The Hildebrand Rarity in its March 1960 issue. The magazine later serialized later Fleming Boind novels, including You Only Live Twice and The Man With The Golden Gun.

The magzine also published THE LAST INTERVIEW WITH FLEMING. And Playboy also had a MEMORABLE 1965 INTERVIEW WITH SEAN CONNERY that demonstrated the star was tiring of the 007 grind.

Bond films acknowledged thre relationship with the magazine. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the George Lazenby version of 007 looks over an issue of the magazine while a device is cracking the safe of a Swiss lawyer as Bond pursues Blofeld’s trail.

Two years later, in Diamonds Are Forever, we see Bond (Sean Connery) has a membership card at a Playboy club.

Over the years, there were various Bond-related pictorials. But the relationship, at least on the literary side, with Bond intensified during Raymond Benson’s 1997-2002 tenture writing 007 continuation novels. The magazine published Benson’s first Bond work, the Blast From the Past short story as well as another short story, Mid-Summer’s Night Doom, where Bond ends up at the Playboy mansion (strictly in the line of duty) and hanging out with Hefner.

The possible Playboy takeover fight is business, of course. But for Bond fans, there may be a bit more — including fond memories — at stake.

UPDATE: FriendFinder made its bid for Playboy on July 14 15. It’s bidding $210 million, which FriendFinder says is a premium over Hefner’s bid. We’ll see how it turns out.

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