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Alvin and the Chipmunks Owner Is Looking to Sell for About $300 Million, Sources Say

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  • Alvin and the Chipmunks owner Bagdasarian Productions has held talks with potential buyers, including ViacomCBS, sources familiar with the matter tell CNBC.
  • The franchise includes songs, movies and TV shows starring animated singing chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore.
  • The company, which is owned by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and his wife, Janice Karman, is working with a financial advisor but hasn't come to terms with a buyer yet.

Bagdasarian Productions, owner of the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, is seeking a buyer, according to people with knowledge of the matter, as it looks to cash in on the premium prices that media companies and private equity investors have been willing to pay for intellectual property.

The company, owned and operated by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and his wife, Janice Karman, has held talks with several potential buyers, including ViacomCBS, but hasn't come to an agreement on terms, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

Bagdasarian Productions is working with a financial advisor and has been looking for a price of about $300 million, two of the people said.

Streaming services such as ViacomCBS' Paramount+, WarnerMedia's HBO Max, and Netflix have been on the hunt for intellectual property to bulk up their subscription offerings. Netflix said in September it acquired the catalog of Roald Dahl, author of children's books including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "James and the Giant Peach" and "Matilda." Bloomberg reported the deal cost more than $700 million.

Private equity firms including Carlyle, Providence Equity, Apollo Global and Blackstone have also expressed interest in acquiring content.

Alvin and the Chipmunks was created by Bagdasarian Jr.'s father, Ross Bagdasarian Sr., in 1958 as a children's music act. "The Alvin Show" began in 1961, featuring the three animated singing chipmunks — Alvin, Simon and Theodore — with sped-up voices to give them their trademark high-pitched sound. Several iterations of TV shows and films followed, including an "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movie in 2007 and three sequels.

Bagdasarian Jr. and Karman run the franchise from their home in Santa Barbara, California. They engaged financial firms to sell the company about four years ago, according to a person familiar with the matter, but ultimately scrapped those discussions.

CNBC called the phone number on the Bagdasarian Productions Facebook page to seek comment. The person who took the call said, "There's no one here that can speak to you about that" and then hung up.

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