Mattel’s board should all be fired and the firm should open its books to the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s office, amid claims it’s become a criminal organization.
It’s also alleged the board is not being honest with investors and has not recorded any contingent liability in its filings involving a class action lawsuit after 59 babies died due to a link to the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper.
In an explosive interview with The Edge (who source underperforming companies for activist involvement, Special Situations and Spinoffs), Iranian-born American billionaire Isaac Larian claims Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) has been engaged in criminal behavior for years.
He says not only has the corporate giant stalked his elderly parents and his 11-year-old son, but also that Mattel’s paranoia extends to stealthily following its own employees, including videotaping them as they go about their private lives.
Mr. Larian, 65, CEO of 40-year-old MGA Entertainment (the world's largest privately-owned toy company), has been engaged in numerous legal battles with Mattel, who first sued him in 2004.
However, he’s now doubled down on his criticism of the Barbie toy maker, disclosing shocking details of the extraordinary dirty tactics he claims Mattel has used in its 15-year attack on his company.
He revealed, "During the trial and probably even now, Mattel hired private investigators to follow me, my elderly parents (who have nothing to do with MGA and don’t even speak English), and my then 11-year-old son, who was harassed while skateboarding on neighborhood streets.
Mattel, who released these Pirates of the Caribbean Barbie dolls, has been accused of using underhanded tactics in their pursuit of Mr. Larian's family.
"Mattel even had the lawyers bully my son in middle schol, which became so intrusive and threatening that it was brought to the attention of Judge Carter (the Federal District Judge in the Mattel case), who in writing admonished Mattel’s lawyers and mandated that they not bully or intimidate children."
On August 5, 2011, Mattel was ordered to pay MGA $310 million for attorney fees, stealing trade secrets, and false claims. The Ninth Circuit later vacated without prejudice a $170 million portion of the judgment against Mattel.
On January 13, 2014, MGA filed a complaint in the California State Court seeking in excess of $1 billion, and this lawsuit has yet to be ruled upon - but if it goes Larian’s way, he could more than certainly end up the victor in this battle of the giants.
In June 2019, Larian ceased his plan to merge both companies, insisting, “At this time, it is in the best interest of MGA not to continue forward with a Mattel offer,” and now in December he’s just as angry at the firm.
He fumed, “In my opinion, the current Mattel management and board of directors are incompetent and should all be fired.
“The recent whistle-blower fiasco, which called out the Mattel finance department who basically cooked the books to falsely increase the stock pricing, is just pure criminal and should be investigated by the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
"I’m surprised that the government still has not investigated Mattel’s criminal activities from years ago when they fraudulently concealed and destroyed evidence and followed and videotaped employees and their families when they were not working and on holidays and weekends with their families.”
He also alleges that Mattel is not being honest with investors about being responsible for the deaths of 59 babies due to its faulty Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, which is part of class action suit.
All models of Rock n Play Sleepers by Fisher-Price are being recalled after reports of infant fatalities occurring while using the product.
He unveiled, “Knowing the history of Mattel and that they conceal evidence and cook the books, I don’t believe any reporting regarding their financial statements. The Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is linked to the death of 59 babies, which Mattel hid from the public, as well as investors.
“Parents who experienced this horrific tragedy have sued Mattel. Let’s assume each family receives a $10 million settlement or judgement (frankly, no amount of money can replace the loss of a child).
“Conservatively, this would be an estimated $590 million in liability. Has Mattel recorded a contingent liability for $590 million on their books? I don’t see it.”
With its 75th birthday right around the corner in January, Mattel is struggling with its $3 billion debt and is facing a probe as to whether it violated federal securities laws.
It has lost two-thirds of its value over the past three years and has a mountain of trouble as it tries to turn itself around with rapidly declining sales, operating losses, high-profile executive departures, and losing $531 million on sales of $4.5 billion last year.
Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Mattel, should be grilled by the SEC over the company's financials, says Issac.
After former CEO Margaret Georgiadis stepped down only 13 months on the job, new CEO Ynon Kreiz took over in April 2018 and has been criticized for his $18.7 million pay packet, and Larian insists the entire board should go. He has also set about creating a turnaround plan for the struggling firm.
He said, “I believe, under the current management and board of directors, Mattel will definitely go to zero. The first thing I would do is fire the incompetent board of directors, as well as most of the top management currently in place.
“Then, I would evaluate the rest of the organization, looking to bring new, original innovation and efficiencies to the company.
“I have 40 years of experience operating an uninterrupted, very successful toy business. We have zero debt. We are gaining and maintaining market share, growing double-digit every year for the past six years.
“The toy business is not easy, but like a professional athlete who trains every day to get stronger and succeed, I have trained every day for the past 40 years.”
The Edge sources undercovered catalyst ideas and advises money managers on how to profit from Spinoffs and Special Situations. On November 21, 2019, the firm hosted their third annual ideas conference, and raised $5,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association through discretionary donations.