Snoopy's back with family

Snoopy is back in familiar hands. A decade after Charles M. Schulz drew Charlie Brown's legendary pet beagle for the last time, the family of the late cartoonist has reclaimed a stake in the Peanuts brand.

Current owners E.W. Scripps announced yesterday that they had struck a US$175 million ($244.5 million) deal to sell United Media Licensing, a licensing unit that generates sales worth US$2 billion a year, with the bulk of that connected to the Peanuts characters.

The family of Mr Schulz, who died in 2000, will own 20 per cent of the Peanuts licensing rights, with the rest held by the Iconix Brand Group. Scripps will continue to syndicate the strip to newspapers.

The Snoopy cartoon first hit the market in 1950. By the time its author retired in 1999, the strip was in more than 2600 papers.

Mr Schulz died the following year.

Iconix said they expected to get roughly US$75 million a year in royalties from its new acquisition.

"The Peanuts brand is iconic, with some of the most beloved and well-known characters in history," explained Neil Cole, the company's chairman.

- INDEPENDENT

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