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Mattel names ex-Endemol & Maker Studios boss chair

Former Endemol, Maker Studios and Fox Kids Europe boss Ynon Kreiz has been named non-executive chairman of kids TV and entertainment company Mattel.

Kreiz (pictured) has been a director at the Califonia-based toy giant since June last year, and will now succeed executive chairman Christopher Sinclair, who is retiring.

“Over the past several months, the board has benefitted immensely from Ynon’s deep expertise across digital, media and entertainment,” said Michael J. Dolan, independent lead director at Mattel.

Kreiz left Disney-owned multichannel network Maker Studios at the end of 2015, having joined after leaving his post as CEO and chairman of Endemol (now part of Endemol Shine Group).

Before that, he had led Fox Kids Europe, which was a joint venture between Saban and News Corp in the last 1990s and early 2000s. The business was later rebranded Jetix after Disney bought a majority stake.

While Kreiz’s chair hire appears to bolster Mattel’s original video efforts, with Kreiz’s background in content, the company’s chief creative officer, Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, left in November last year for NBCUniversal.

The move put the breaks on previously announced original programming aims.

From a wider perspective, Mattel has been attempting to bring its operations into the digital era with new internet-connected toys, mobile apps and other digital entertainment products.

The company remains one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, owning brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels and Thomas the Tank Engine, but sees the future elsewhere.

It appointed Margo Georgiadis as CEO in January last year, when she replaced Sinclair, who moved upstairs. She is a former Google exec, who ran the Americas operation of the internet giant’s parent, Alphabet.

Independent board member Dolan said that former Endemol boss Kreiz has “cutting-edge perspective on areas essential to our transformation strategy”.

“Mattel is an iconic global company with beloved brands and a unique ability to connect with consumers of all ages,” said Kreiz.

“As we work to build on these strengths and position Mattel for growth, we are laser-focused on ensuring the company reaches its full potential in a dynamic and rapidly evolving marketplace.

Under Margo’s leadership, Mattel’s board and management team have taken aggressive steps to reinvent the company. Together, we are committed to delivering on our strategic pillars and to creating long-term value for our shareholders.”