Playboy is eyeing a return to the stock market, sources say

Months after killing its iconic nudie magazine, Playboy Enterprises is exploring its options to go public, The Post has learned.

The company founded by Hugh Hefner 66 years ago has been talking to so-called blank-check companies about an investment to fund its push into sexual wellness products, spirits and cannabis, sources told The Post.

The talks, which Reuters first reported on Friday, could pave the way for Playboy return to the stock market nine years after it went private in a $207 million deal led by Hefner and private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management. Blank-check companies, also known as special acquisition vehicles or SPACs, go public in order to raise money to buy companies that then take over that ticker symbol, subverting the traditional IPO process.

Among the SPACs Playboy’s has connected with is Mountain Crest, which has raised about $50 million led by Dr. Suying Liu, head of corporate strategist at Hudson Capital, a financial services firm based in Beijing.

Of course, any SPAC that invests in Playboy would be throwing money at a very different model than the company that went private under Hefner in 2011.

Hefner died in 2017 at the age of 91 at his famed mansion in Los Angeles, which has since been split into parcels of land. His youngest son, Cooper Hefner, took over for awhile before exiting the business last year.

The biggest blow came in March when Playboy’s CEO Ben Kohn said the company would stop printing its flagship magazine, which first turned head in 1953 with a nude Marilyn Monroe.

Playboy is still a media company with a website that carries articles on sex and race and, of course, pics of naked women. But much of the company’s focus is now on sales of Playboy-branded products, including a cannabis-centric line of sex gels and sprays called “CBD by Playboy,”  as well as face masks dotted with the Playboy bunny logo.

And the brand, while still big in countries like China, has been losing momentum in the US for years. As The Post has previously reported, the magazine’s sales were suffering well before the coronavirus brought it to its knees in March. And efforts to revive a Playboy Club at the Cachet Hotel on West 42 Street ended last year after just one year.

Playboy’s fundraising efforts come at a time when SPACs are popping up left and right with money to spend. Of the 329 SPACs that went public in the last ten years, 103 of them came to be in 2020, raising $40 billion to go hunting for mergers, according to when SPACInsider.

New York Post

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