Celebrate Express Bought by Liberty Media

Jun 28, 2008 1:04 AM  By

Party supplies and costumes merchant Celebrate Express will be sold to holding company Liberty Media for $31 million in cash, or $3.90 per share.

The deal, which has been approved the boards of both companies, is expected to close in third quarter. It is still subject to Celebrate stockholder approval and other customary closing conditions.

Celebrate Express, which includes the Birthday Express and Costume Express brands, has posted losses for eight of the nine past quarters. In April the company reported a third-quarter loss of $13.3 million. That same month it announced that it had hired New York-based investment bank Cowen and Co. after a third party expressed an interest in buying the company.

As per the agreement, Celebrate Express will be folded into Buyseasons.com, an Internet costume and party retailer acquired by Liberty Media in 2006. Buyseasons.com is part of the Liberty Interactive Group, which also includes Liberty Media’s interests in QVC.com, Provide Commerce, Backcountry.com, Bodybuilding.com, IAC/InterActiveCorp, and Expedia.

Michael Zeisser, senior vice president of Liberty Media, said in a release that the acquisition “represents another step in our stated strategy to acquire niche e-commerce businesses whose value we can enhance.”

Celebrate Express launched its first catalog, Birthday Express, in 1994. Since then the company has expanded its offerings to focus on milestone birthdays and year-round costume parties. It was profitable for the first three years, but then began to steadily lose money.

A representative from Celebrate Express declined to comment beyond what was in the press release. Calls to Liberty Media were not returned by press time.