Shari Redstone, Bob Bakish Credit Late Hasbro CEO for Viacom, CBS Merger, ‘Transformers’ Movies Success

Following the death of Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, Shari Redstone, non-executive chair of the ViacomCBS board of directors, late Tuesday hailed Goldner for his efforts in helping her re-unite Viacom and CBS Corp. in 2019.

Goldner, who died Oct. 12 at the age of 58 following a seven-year battle with cancer, had served on the ViacomCBS board. He was instrumental in transforming toy properties “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” into movie franchises

Brian Goldner

Redstone said Goldner’s “guidance and leadership” not only contributed to the ViacomCBS merger, but also in the execution of a “vision that has significantly shaped the company and will take us well into the future.”

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“While I will always be grateful for the incredible contributions Brian made to this company, what we will all miss the most is his wisdom, his kindness, his commitment, and his friendship,” Redstone said in a statement. “He will always hold a special place in our hearts and he will be forever missed.”

Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, said Goldner not only transformed Hasbro from its traditional roots in toys and games into a multi-platform content creator, as a member of the ViacomCBS board, he was an “essential voice” guiding the evolution movies, toys and consumer goods, in addition to championing “our commitment to sustainability.”

Across seven movies, the “Transformers” franchise has generated $5.8 billion at the global box office, in addition to hundreds of millions more in home entertainment and consumer products revenue.

“[Goldner’s] passion for delighting consumers also shone through in his long-time partnership with Paramount Pictures that helped build Transformers into an iconic film franchise,” Bakish said. “We extend our deepest sympathies to Brian’s family and to the entire Hasbro community during this difficult time.”

Hasbro Announces the Passing of CEO Brian Goldner

Hasbro announced that longtime chairman/CEO Brian Goldner passed away following a seven-year battle against cancer. He was 58. His death came just days after he took a leave of absence for medical reasons.

Goldner helped transform Hasbro from toymaker to media company, producing movies with Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks, in addition to acquiring Canadian media distributor eOne in 2019 for $4 billion.

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“Since joining the company more than two decades ago, Brian has been the heart and soul of Hasbro,” interim CEO Rich Stoddart said in a statement. “As a charismatic and passionate leader in both the play and entertainment industries, Brian’s work brought joy and laughter to children and families around the world. His visionary leadership, kindness, and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched. On behalf of the Hasbro family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences to his wife, daughter, and entire family.”

Goldner joined Hasbro in 2000 and was quickly recognized as a visionary in the industry. He was appointed CEO in 2008 and became chairman in 2015. He was instrumental in transforming the company beyond toys and games into television, movies and digital gaming.

The culmination of his pioneering strategy was the acquisition of independent entertainment studio eOne. Goldner served on the board of ViacomCBS and was the chair of the compensation committee.

“Brian’s passing is a tremendous loss for Hasbro and the world,” said Edward Philip, lead independent director of the board. “Brian was universally admired and respected in the industry, and throughout his over twenty years at Hasbro, his inspiring leadership and exuberance left an indelible mark on everything and everyone he touched. A mentor and friend to so many, his passion and creativity took Hasbro to new heights.

Goldner is survived by his wife Barbara and their daughter.

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner Taking Medical Leave of Absence

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner is taking a medical leave of absence, effective immediately, with lead independent board member Rich Stoddart assuming the interim CEO position, the toymaker/media company announced.

Goldner, 58, has been dealing with cancer since being diagnosed in 2014. He announced last August that he was undergoing continued medical care for the disease. Goldner has been CEO of Hasbro since 2008.

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“After careful consideration, I have decided to take a medical leave to focus on my health,” Goldner said in a statement. “I feel confident knowing the company will be in the skilled hands of Rich, our highly experienced management team and the best employees in the business. Hasbro’s future couldn’t be brighter as we continue to supercharge the blueprint and build the world’s leading play and entertainment company.”

Under Goldner’s reign as CEO, Hasbro has transitioned from toy and physical game maker, to include Hollywood producer — most notably the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” movie franchises with Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks. The franchises have been box office and home entertainment successes, with “Transformers” generating $4.85 billion in global ticket sales across six movies.

In 2019, Goldner spearheaded Hasbro’s $4 billion acquisition of Canadian-based media company Entertainment One (eOne), which included rights to popular preschool TV series “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks,” among others.

eOne Acquisition, COVID-19 Weigh Heavily on Hasbro Earnings

Game manufacturer Hasbro’s aggressive move into content production and distribution continues to sting the fiscal bottom line. The company July 27 reported a second-quarter (ended June 30) loss of $33.9 million on revenue of $863 million, which was down 29% from revenue of $1.2 billion in the previous-year period.

Much of the loss came from the $3.8 billion acquisition of Entertainment One in 2019, including $8.5 million after tax of acquisition-related expenses, $10.1 million after-tax of severance charges associated with cost-savings initiatives within the Canadian company’s commercial and TV and film businesses, and $17.9 million after-tax of purchased intangible amortization associated with the deal. eOne revenue in the quarter fell 30% to $160.9 million from $231.1 million.

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Hasbro, which has licensed IP to Paramount Pictures for movie franchises “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe,” among others, said revenue from “TV, film and entertainment” dropped 32% to $132.2 million from $195.4 million — much of it due to production and distribution shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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“The second quarter was much as we expected: strong point of sale for Hasbro brands countered by a very challenging revenue period due to global closures in our supply chain, across retailers as well as in entertainment production,” CEO Brian Goldner said in a statement.

With the economy slowly emerging from the shutdowns, Goldner is looking forward to the winter holiday retail season. Hasbro’s biggest retail clients include Walmart, Target and Amazon.

“We believe the outlook improves from here,” Goldner said. “Consumers — children, families, fans and audiences — are relying on Hasbro brands and stories to connect and entertain themselves throughout this period.”

CFO Deborah Thomas said the gamer has a strong financial position, with more than $1 billion in cash on the balance sheet and a $1.5 billion revolving credit facility.

“We continue to see improvement as stores reopen, and we are working closely with our customers to successfully navigate this period,” Thomas said. “Working capital needs increase in the second half of the year, with early fourth quarter the peak period and we are positioned to support our plans for a good holiday season.”