Playboy Goes Public Again In SPAC Merger, Could Hunt Gaming, Sports Bet Deals

Posted on: February 11, 2021, 10:01h. 

Last updated on: February 11, 2021, 11:52h.

After nearly a decade as a privately held company, Playboy is again public, following its completion of a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Mountain Crest Acquisition Corp.

Playboy public company
The late Hugh Hefner (middle). Playboy, the company he founded, is a public entity again. (Image: AP News)

The blank-check entity said last October it was paying $381 million to acquire Playboy, paving the way for the adult entertainment and lifestyle brand to return to public markets after an almost 10-year hiatus. The company, founded by the late Hugh Hefner, debuted on the Nasdaq Global Market today under the ticker “PLBY.”

Sales of Playboy peaked in the early 1970s, and it eventually went from a monthly edition to quarterly, with current CEO Ben Kohn pulling the plug on it last year. Under his leadership, the company has transformed into a consumer products and experiences entity from publishing. Playboy now focuses on four segments: Beauty and grooming, gaming/lifestyle, sexual wellness, and style and apparel.

Current gaming exposure includes a partnership with Caesars Entertainment operating the Playboy Club Casino in London. Although it’s no longer in the magazine business, the Playboy brand remains highly recognizable and valuable.

PLBY Group’s flagship consumer brand, Playboy, is one of the most recognizable, iconic brands in the world, driving more than $3 billion in global consumer spend annually across 180 countries,” according to the company.

For example, Playboy is a hit in China, where it’s one of the top men’s fashion labels, has 2,500 brick-and-mortar stores, and is distributed through more than 1,000 e-commerce sites.

Playboy’s Future of Gaming

When Mountain Crest and Playboy announced the merger last October, it was mentioned that the target could pursue acquisitions in any of the four verticals in which it operates, including gaming.

Through partnerships with Microgaming and Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS), Playboy already has a footprint in the iGaming space, and the company is working on an online sports betting platform.

What comes of Playboy’s online casinos and sports wagering ambitions remains to be seen. But those are expensive areas in which to operate, with some companies already bleeding cash in the names of customer acquisition and top-line growth. However, as Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) proves with its Barstool Sports partnership, it pays to enter these areas with an established, recognizable brand — something Playboy clearly has.

Following the completion of the SPAC transaction, Playboy received $108.6 million in gross proceeds, which can be used for gaming expansion, acquisitions, or deals in the company’s other areas of emphasis.

Playboy Revenue Grows

Unlike many companies that come public by way of blank-check mergers, Playboy is profitable. On the back of an 86 percent revenue increase, the company turned a $1.3 million profit in the third quarter of 2020, following a $3.4 million loss in the same period in 2019.

The company forecast $40 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) this year on sales of $160 million.

Playboy also has something Wall Street and investors crave: A young audience. Ninety percent of its customers are under the age of 40 — exactly the demographic many online gaming companies target.