EXCLUSIVE: Li & Fung Acquires TLC

Li & Fung Ltd., the $20 billion Hong Kong-based global trading, logistics and distribution company, has acquired brand licensing agency The Licensing Company, License! Global has learned.

This acquisition represents an unprecedented alliance, bringing together two very different types of businesses that share several synergies in the apparel, home and lifestyle categories as well as a strong presence in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Founded by Melvin Thomas and Angela Farrugia in 1996, TLC represents several top global brands in fashion, auto, food and beverage including Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Chrysler and Hershey’s. With offices in New York, London, Paris, Munich, Shanghai, Detroit and Tokyo, TLC is the fourth largest global licensing agency, according to the annual License! Global Top Agents Report, with $3.8 billion in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide for 2012.

In 2010, TLC created a joint venture relationship with Iconix Brand Group USA, to form Iconix Europe, headquartered in London. Li & Fung will take over 50 percent of the joint venture, which has a portfolio of 17 fashion and lifestyle brands.

Thomas and Farrugia will remain at the helm of the TLC business. For TLC, it will likely be business as usual as part of Li & Fung, but maintaining impartiality will be key to the deal.

Other recent acquisitions by Li & Fung, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, that exemplify the company’s diverse holdings, include: Whalen Furniture, a leading home furnishings company; Chuan Jui Group, a transportation company in Taiwan; Four Star Group, a distributor of pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Macau; Group A, a U.K.-based beauty point-of-sale business; and RM Enterprises Group, a character licensing agency in Greater China, South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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