- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Billionaire media mogul Haim Saban has bought Paul Frank Industries Inc., the owner of the Julius monkey brand and other characters, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal announced Tuesday for the logos, which adorn T-shirts, pajamas, bicycles and other merchandise, marks the second acquisition for Saban Brands, a fund seeded with $500 million. In May, it bought back the Power Rangers from The Walt Disney Co.

Saban, 65, licensed the Power Rangers from Japan’s Toei Company Ltd. in the 1990s. He became a billionaire when he packaged the Power Rangers with the Fox Family Channel and sold his half to Disney in 2001.

Saban said his company will continue to be aggressive but selective in acquiring more brands. The company is in talks with two other groups on more than a dozen properties, he said.

“Be on the lookout for Saban Brands on a constant basis,” Saban told The Associated Press in an interview.

He said that he paid “full price” for Paul Frank based on the size of the business and because other companies had also been interested. Saban said the amount of money he was ready to invest in brands wasn’t limited to half a billion dollars.

“If an opportunity came up and we needed to put $1 billion on the table to acquire a serious, additional property … we’d put in $1 billion,” he said.

Unlike the Power Rangers deal, in which Saban Brands picked up some 700 TV episodes that will run on Viacom Inc.’s Nickelodeon and Nicktoons cable channels, Paul Frank’s characters have less developed story lines and there are no immediate plans for a TV deal.

Paul Frank has developed a series of children’s books and has a handful of short cartoons on its website. Plans are to develop new content to spur sales.

“We’ve been very guarded as to giving (Julius) too much of an opinion at this point,” said Ryan Heuser, the co-founder of the Costa Mesa-based company, who is staying on as chief creative officer. “Really it’s an untapped place for us to play.”

Paul Frank Industries got its start when Paul Frank Sunich sewed the Julius character made of vinyl on a purse for his girlfriend. From there, word of mouth grew, and the company now does business in more than 60 countries, but mostly in the United States.

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On the Web:

Paul Frank Industries Inc., http://www.paulfrank.com

Saban Brands, http://www.sabanbrands.com