Corgi drives safely into American hands

CORGI CLASSICS, maker of the miniature metal cars that are one of the UK's best-loved collectibles, is set to become the latest home- grown toy business bought out by a US-listed rival.

Zindart, based in Hong Kong but listed on Nasdaq, has agreed to buy Corgi for pounds 30m. If the deal goes ahead, Corgi will join Bluebird, Speares and Waddingtons in US hands.

Gerry Masters, secretary of the British Toy Retailers Association, said: "It is inevitable that the UK toy industry... will require the backing of bigger companies that can provide a solid foundation."

Corgi's sales for 1998 were pounds 18.7m and operating profits pounds 3m. Zindart's sales for its year to March were $113.6m (pounds 70.6m) and operating profits $12.2m.Corgi will still be based in the UK; no job losses are envisaged.

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