O. Perelman acquires Marvel Entertainment Group for $82.5 million,
about $10 million from his pocket and the rest borrowed.
(ticker symbol MRV) sells stock to the public for the first time,
the IPO providing $40 million cash to Perelman while he retains
60% of the shares.
In an expansion binge, Marvel spends $590 million (borrowed from
a bank syndicate led by Chase Manhattan) to acquire Fleer and SkyBox
trading-card companies and an entertainment-sticker maker, Panini.
1993: Perelman cuts an unusual deal with Ike Perlmutter
and Avi Arad, two Israeli immigrants who run Toy Biz. They get a
perpetual license to make toys based on Marvel characters without
paying any royalties; and Marvel gets 46% of highly profitable Toy
Biz. MRV's stock rises to $34, seventeen times its initial price,
giving Marvel a market value of over $3 billion.
Using the sky-high shares as collateral, Perelman forms holding
companies to sell Marvel "high yield notes" (junk bonds)
in three tranches. He personally nets over $500 million. When the
bonds come due in five years, he can repay the investors or -- if
MRV stock collapses -- he can just hand over the shares and walk
away. (Later, Perelman is cleared of charges of unjust enrichment;
has its first unprofitable year, and 1996 is even worse, because
of slumping comic-book and baseball-card sales and crippling bank
1996: Perelman offers to rescue the company by injecting
$350 million, but only if many more shares are created and given
to him. Carl Icahn buys Marvel's bonds -- at 20 cents per dollar
of value -- and vows to block the Perelman plan. All-out war breaks
27, 1996: Perelman's Marvel files for Chapter 11 protection
in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington. But the bondholders, led
by Icahn, win: Perelman is forced to leave.
20, 1997: Icahn is installed as Marvel's chairman but has
a lot of trouble in this unfamiliar field. Toy Biz is in a panic:
in grueling talks with Perelman, then Icahn, then the banks, and
back to Icahn. The banks' lawyer is the very demanding Chaim Fortgang.
No one is tougher than Carl Icahn. Ike Perlmutter and Avi Arad try
to get along with him, but decide they can't. The battle is long
and multi-sided, featuring huge egos and all-night arguments. Icahn
has a deal with the banks; but then Toy Biz has a deal with the
banks to reorganize Marvel, settle some of the debts, and march
on as a merged company.
1997: A federal judge ousts Icahn and appoints a Trustee
to administer Marvel. The negotiations become even more complicated.
The banks' Fortgang pushes for the best terms possible.
June 1998: After six months marked by pressure from
Icahn, Toy Biz wins a federal judge's approval for its takeover
of Marvel -- completed in October with the birth of a new company:
Marvel Enterprises (ticker symbol MVL), run by Ike Perlmutter and
Avi Arad. The little guys beat Ron Perelman and Carl Icahn.
The X-Men movie is a hit.
2002: The Spider-Man movie.
The Hulk, directed by Ang Lee ... and many more, as Marvel keeps
comic-book culture alive in new ways, while raking in licensing
income and innovatively buying back its bonds to slash debt.