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Playboy set to emerge anew as public company

Playboy will become a public company again under a deal announced Thursday with the group famous for the iconic nudes in its long-running lifestyle magazine. The deal will make Playboy Enterprises a publicly traded firm nine years after going private and a long period of turmoil for the group which from its founding in the 1950s broke taboos on sexual content. The plan calls for investors in a special purpose acquisition corporation to buy Playboy, which will be listed on the Nasdaq as PLBY, in a deal valued at $381 million -- including $142 million in debt. The deal led by the specially-formed Mountain Crest Acquisition Corp. allows the new firm to hit public markets without a more complex share offering. Mountain Crest, already listed on the Nasdaq, will change its name to Playboy under the plan. "Today is a very big day for all of us at Playboy and for all our partners globally," said Ben Kohn, who will maintain his position as chief executive of Playboy. "Playboy is a brand and platform that could not be replicated today. It has massive global reach, with more than $3 billion of global consumer spend and products sold in over 180 countries." The new Playboy will be seeking growth opportunities in branding of sexual wellness and lingerie products, apparel and accessories, gaming and lifestyle and cosmetics for men and women. Suying Liu, who heads Mountain Crest, described Playboy as "a unique and compelling investment opportunity, with one of the world's largest and most recognized brands." Earlier this year Playboy ended its US print edition after 66 years with the coronavirus forcing the publisher to accelerate its move to digital. The magazine known for promoting the 1960s sexual revolution saw its popularity peak in the 1970s, but struggled in the face of competition and a new digital landscape. Playboy consistently drew criticism for objectifying women with its erotic photography, but its supporters claimed the breaking of taboos also had a liberating effect. Its founder Hugh Hefner died in 2017.

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