Thursday, November 24, 2005


(North Pole, Dec 7) The high finance world was rocked today by news that Santa Claus is selling out in an LBO transaction. During a press conference at Santa's Workshop, a sprawling ten square mile assemblage of factories producing everything that every heart has ever desired, Seth Tannenbaum, chairman of buy-out firm Kilbyrd Crevice, announced that his firm will be leading the $100 billion transaction.

"We are pleased and honored to be managing this transaction, the largest LBO in history," he said, with St. Nick standing by his side. "Santa Claus is a marketing icon, the most widely recognized brand in the world."

Kilbyrd Crevice will lead a syndicate purchasing 70% ownership interest in a newly formed corporation called Santa Inc. Mr. Claus will hold the title of chairman of the new entity and will own the remaining 30% interest, valued by Mr. Tannenbaum at $30 billion, an amount which elicited a jolly Ho-Ho-Ho from Mr. Claus.

Santa Inc. plans to borrow through a combination of bank debt and high yield bonds approximately $70 billion to finance the LBO. Mr. Tannenbaum appeared to have no concerns about arranging the financing, saying that "every bank in the world will be beating down the doors to get a piece of Santa Claus."

Some financial analysts have questioned how such a massive amount of debt will be serviced, given that Santa Claus does not charge for his products and services. Answering that, Tannenbaum said that the first order of business would be to trademark the names Santa Claus, Old St. Nick, St. Nicholas, Kriss Kringle. Tannenbaum estimated that the royalty payments generated from that trademark would total more than $25 billion annually, more than enough to make the debt payments.

He added that the possibilities of other revenue streams resulting from the "monetizing" of Santa Claus are almost limitless. For example, children might be told to leave a dollar bill (or the equivalent amount in the respective currency) for Santa instead of the traditional cookies and milk. "There's another billion dollars or so from that tidbit alone," Tannenbaum exclaimed. He pointed out that Santa Claus is still not known in large parts of the world. "We will be immediately exploiting the market in China, which is completely untapped when it comes to the joys and wonders of the Santa Claus experience," Tannenbaum said.

"Even though the old man has been schlepping toys for two hundred and some odd years, we do not view this as an investment in a mature business," Tannenbaum said. "This is a growth opportunity for us."

Tannenbaum said that one of the "hidden values" inducing Kilbyrd to make this investment is the workforce supporting Santa Claus's enterprise. "There's nothing in the world to compare to these elves," he said. "We're not talking UAW factory workers here. These elves are super freaks. They work 24/7 with one break every twelve hours for some hot chocolate. They don't get sick so health care costs are nil. They're not concerned about pensions because they expect to be doing this until they drop dead on the workshop floor. So we have no legacy costs issues to deal with."

"And most people don't know that elves crave salted peanuts," Mr. Claus added. "So, quite literally, I pay them peanuts," he said with a slighly sinister Ho-Ho-Ho.

Mr. Claus seemed a bit wistful when explaining why he decided to sell. "Well, you know, I'm no spring chicken anymore," he said as he puffed on his pipe. "And I got this weight problem to deal with and the doc told me just last month that I might have diabetes. And on top of that, it's just so hard to keep up with the population growth. I mean there are tens of millions of new kids born every year, and I can only work my elves so hard. So we're looking at some real capacity constraints down the road. And heck, I haven't even mentioned trying to keep up with the technology that all these new-fangled gadgets have today. So I had to come up with the funds for an expanded cap ex program real quick," he said. "And besides all that, Mrs. Claus kind of took to the idea of having $30 billion in the bank," he added with a wink and another Ho-Ho-Ho.

Mr. Tannenbaum said that this LBO could lead to similar transactions in the future, as Kilbyrd Crevice would look to "roll up" the holiday-themed enterprises. He said, for example, that his firm has interest in doing a similar deal with the Easter Bunny, but nobody has a clue how to reach the rabbit.




Anonymous said...

Your articles remind me of those letters one occasionally gets where somebody announces their wedding or the birth of a child in the form of an M&A tombstone or press release -quite original

Nick Goreman said...

well thanks