Finance

Lachlan Murdoch buys a slice of struggling toy company Funtastic

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Lachlan Murdoch has become one of the largest shareholders in beleaguered toy company Funtastic, just weeks after the company revealed it was owed up to $11 million by failed childcare giant ABC Learning Centres.

Lachlan Murdoch has become one of the largest shareholders in beleaguered toy company Funtastic, just weeks after the company revealed it was owed up to $11 million by failed childcare giant ABC Learning Centres.

Murdoch and his private investment company Antium have spent around $2 million amassing a stake of around 14% in Funtastic. That makes Murdoch the second largest shareholder behind Orbis Holdings.

Murdoch has had a relatively quiet year since his bold bid to privatise PBL Media in a deal with James Packer fell over. Murdoch, the son of News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch, operates a number of small investment vehicles, including Antium and a holding company called Illyria.

The surprise investment by Murdoch is a rare vote of confidence for Funtastic, which has struggled through a difficult year.

In May, the company received a $133 million takeover bid from a consortium led by private equity firm Archer Capital. But this deal fell over in August when the two parties could not agree on a price. Funtastic founder and chairman David Hendy resigned after the takeover talks broke down.

In mid-November, Funtastic announced it was owed $8.5 million by ABC Learning, and could be forced to write off another $3.1 million as a result of supply deals with a related ABC company called ABC Development Group.

Since the start of the year Funtastic’s shares have slumped from 63 cents at the start of the year to just 14 cents.

It is unclear whether Murdoch will seek a position on Funtastic’s board.

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