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(Reuters)

Report: Toymakers Mattel, Hasbro Held Talks on Possible Merger

Industries Reuters

U.S. toymakers Mattel Inc and Hasbro Inc have held talks about a possible merger, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

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Mattel's shares rose as much as 8.2 percent to a 16-month high of $34.36, while Hasbro was up 3.3 percent in afternoon trading on Thursday. (http://bloom.bg/1mgngZw)

The companies had a combined market capitalization of more than $20 billion as of Wednesday's closing.

Hasbro approached Mattel about a potential transaction late last year, and the companies have held talks about a deal since then, Bloomberg said citing the people.

The talks may not lead to a deal, Bloomberg reported, adding that details on how a deal might be structured could not be immediately learned.

Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duff said the company does not comment on rumors or market speculation. Mattel was not immediately available for comment.

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This is not the first time the companies have held merger talks. In 1996, Mattel had offered to buy Hasbro for about $5.2 billion, but withdrew the offer, citing an intolerable climate at the time.

In recent years, the companies have vied for lucrative contracts.

Hasbro won a license to make Walt Disney Co's Disney Princess dolls, including those based on the hit movie "Frozen". It also has the rights to make action figures based on the popular Star Wars franchise.

Mattel reported a surprise rise in holiday quarter sales, its first increase in over two years, boosted in part by recovering sales of its 56-year old Barbie brand.

Hasbro will report its holiday-quarter results on Monday.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)