Phoenix looks to sell toy developer Vivid for £80m

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The Independent Online

The owner of the toy developer Vivid Imaginations has hired advisers at KPMG to sell the company for up to £80m.

Vivid, which licenses Moshi Monsters toys, has been backed by Phoenix Equity Partners since a £62m management buyout in 2002 but the private equity firm now wants to exit its investment.

Vivid, based in Guildford, Surrey, makes, designs and distributes toys. It also holds the distribution rights to popular TV shows and movies, with notable successes in the past including Shrek and Toy Story 3.

In one of its biggest deals, Vivid signed a master toy licensing deal last year with Mind Candy, the publisher of Moshi Monsters, to sell miniature collectable toys based on the online children's game. Moshi Monsters has more than 50 million online users worldwide.

Vivid, which has global retail sales of $305m (£193m), has also moved heavily into music. It signed a deal in January with Bravado Merchandising to become the master toy partner for the boy band The Wanted.

It is also the licensee for collectable dolls for the X-Factor finalists One Direction.

Nick Austin and Alan Bennie, the former managing director and finance chief, respectively, at Matchbox UK, founded Vivid in 1992.

The management team was retained in the 2002 MBO, backed by Phoenix and Royal Bank of Scotland. All parties declined to comment yesterday.