Enter bankrupt Toys "R" Us Inc. -- a prime acquisition target.
At least that was the thinking of Jay Bender, a partner and chair of law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP's bankruptcy, restructuring and distressed investing practice group.
Bender told TheStreet on Wednesday, Sept. 20, that the Toys "R" Us Chapter 11 filing could "provide a platform for Amazon or Google to elevate themselves by having a bricks-and-mortar presence."
While Bender said the idea is "purely speculative," Amazon and Google could transform the ailing toys retailer into a place where customers can find just as many tech products, like the Google Home or Amazon Echo, as traditional toys from Mattel Inc. (MAT) and Hasbro Inc. (HAS) .
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The toys and games segment in the U.S. is expected to exceed $135 billion by 2020, driven by tech, including smart toys and educational games, according to Global Industry Analysts Inc.
To be sure, private equity-backed Toys "R" Us is not exploring a sale. Bain Capital LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LLC (KKR) and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) took the company private in 2005 in a deal worth $6.6 billion.
In fact, under its Chapter 11 case, filed on Sept. 18, TheStreet's sister publication, The Deal, reported that Toys "R" Us plans to raise wages for its roughly 60,000 employees and does not expect to close any stores.
In 2016, U.S. toy sales grew 5% to $20.4 billion, with "youth electronics" gaining 3%, NPD Group Inc. reported in January. Last year, the research firm found, too, that children in the U.S. played with traditional and tech toys almost equally.
On a weekly basis in 2015, 87% of kids in the U.S. engaged in traditional play or activities, while 85% were engaged in tech play or activities, NPD said.
Mattel, pressured by several years of declining sales, especially in its all-important Barbie segment, has been trying to capitalize on the expanding tech toys space. In January, the toymaker announced the hiring of Margaret Georgiadis, former Google president of the Americas.
Earlier in January, Mattel launched Aristotle, a $299 voice-control smart baby monitor, designed to adapt to meet the individual needs of children. Some of Aristotle's functions include ordering diapers, lulling a baby back to sleep, leaving mom and dad undisturbed, and helping with homework as the baby grows into a toddler and teen.
"One thing is certain, this is emblematic of the 'new Mattel,'" BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson told TheStreet earlier this year.
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