The Playboy Enterprises chief executive talks about the brand's prospects in Asia—and founder Hugh Hefner's bid to take the company private
You've just opened a Playboy Club (PLA) in Macao, China's gaming hub. How does this fit into your Asian plans?The major focus of our growth is going to be licensing and our club business. Five years from now, 90 percent of our profits will come from licensing and clubs. Asia will account for 30, maybe 40, percent of that 90 percent.
But Asian governments restrict adult entertainment.Asia [is] the region where we have the lightest footprint from a media standpoint, yet it is our strongest licensing market. Playboy is a fashion brand in Asia, more than anywhere else. That's the magic of the brand Hef built. He always was an advocate for women and how men should treat women and how men can be attractive to women.
China's government often campaigns against pornography. How do you overcome that?China is the single biggest country for us in terms of licensing. We're not launching any media properties in China; we are licensing our brand image to go on relevant products: accessories, jewelry, handbags. We have been in business in China for over 20 years and haven't had any issue.
What can you say about Hugh Hefner's proposed buyout?Hef believes the company's best days were when it was private. He would like to return to that status. The board has a special committee evaluating his proposal. Hef owns 70 percent of the voting control; he has no fiduciary duty to sell to anyone. So when he says he is a buyer and not a seller, that speaks for itself.