Buy-out sees Blauw take control of Upper Deck International

Upper Deck CEO Nico Blauw's Blue Ocean company has taken a majority shareholding in the TCG specialist.
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The move follows a damaging legal battle which started in 2008 between Upper Deck's US division and Yu-Gi-Oh owner Konami, in which the US company admitted producing counterfeit Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

The two firms settled out of court earlier this year. The settlement figure is not in the public domain, but Konami was seeking between $50m and $150m.

As a result, considerable damage was done to the Upper Deck brand and its finanaces and the buy-out will enable Blauw's new-look International division, which was not involved in the court case or any of the counterfeiting, to re-establish its own reputation and move forward.

Blauw (pictured) says he has not yet made a decision on whether the firm will change its name.

He said: "Closing a very challenging period, today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Upper Deck International.

"These are exciting times for the company and myself and we are looking forward to this new beginning."

UDI will continue to market and distribute for its partners while developing and launching its own line of products and brands for export purposes. In 2011 UDI will launch its first boy action toy line and will be presenting the line in Hong Kong in October.

Furthermore, UDI is reorganising its management with a number of key moves.

Caspar Klinkhamer, formerly category director toys, has been promoted to the position of commercial director and will be adding all sales responsibilities previously held by Hedley Barnes to his remit.

Klinkhamer has been with UDI for over two years, spearheading the company’s entry into the toy market and previously worked as managing director at Toys R Us and as director of toys and multimedia at Blokker.

Joeri Hoste, formerly category director of collectibles and trading card games will now also be assuming Klinkhamer’s former toy category responsibilities in the position of brand director.

Hoste has been with UDI for over six years, managing various of the company’s trading card games.

Franklin van Dijk, formerly buyer at Upper Deck Nordic/Trendus Europe, is taking up the position of commercial manager Benelux and replacing Jos Doosjen. Van Dijk previously worked as a buyer for the Blokker Group.

Liang Fang Liu joins UDI as finance manager from Big Bocca and will be heading up the finance team, reinforcing financial planning for the company moving forward.

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