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Wednesday, July 21, 1999 Published at 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK

Business: The Company File

Barbie gets hitched to Power Rangers

Barbie's new friends will help her conquer the world

US toy giant Mattel and Japan's Bandai are to join forces to market each other's products.

Mattel, whose products include Barbie dolls, is to form a marketing, sales and product development alliance with Bandai - makers of Power Rangers and tamagotchi toys.

[ image: Go go Power Rangers!]
Go go Power Rangers!
Under the agreement, Bandai will market and sell Mattel products in Japan, starting in October.

Mattel will start marketing and selling Bandai products in the US and Latin America - but this could be expanded to other areas.

They will also cooperate on developing new joint products - particularly next-generation Internet-related devices.

Mattel launched a special version of Barbie in Japan last year - in a bid to take on the country's popular Ricca-chan dolls, made by Takara.

The Japan-only Barbie is a less "sexy" version of the Western model, with smaller breasts and slimmer curves.

Boys and girls

The two companies said they were now also looking at working together to produce and market entertainment software.

Bandai saw sales of its once-popular tamagotchi virtual pets fall steeply last year, with the company making losses.

As part of the deal, Bandai will provide Mattel - the world's largest toy company - with rights to buy up to 2.44m new Bandai shares, worth $31m (£20m) - about 5% of the firm's total outstanding shares.

Bandai also plans to acquire the rights to buy up to 5% of Mattel shares.

Mattel president Ned Mansour said: "Our product lines are extremely compatible.

"Historically, Bandai's strength has rested in the boy's category, while Mattel's strength has been in the girl's and infant pre-school categories."

Mattel expects to boost its annual sales in Japan by $84m.

Bandai stock shot up on news of the alliance, gaining 301 yen, or 15.5%, to end the day at 2,240 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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