Struggling Chuck E. Cheese Agrees To Sell Itself In $950 Million Buyout Deal

The (quite possibly animatronic) overlords at Chuck E. Cheese appear to have run out of options to lift the struggling family fun center out of the slump it’s been in lately, and have instead agreed to a $950 million buyout deal currently on the table.

It’s not just any buyer throwing its hat in the mouse’s ring — Apollo Global Management was one of the buyers of Hostess Brands last year, joining with Metropoulous & Co to buy the assets of the bankrupt company.

Chuck E. Cheese dates back to 1977 when it was founded by Nolan Bushnell, who was also one of the founders of Atari, reports the Associated Press. The more you know, right?

The company has tried to stay current by changing its mouse mascot over the years, sometimes showing Chuck as a New Jersey streetwise mouse with a cigar in his mouth, other times as a hip, skateboarding mouse with a baseball cap. Despite those various iterations, including the most recent refresher to Chuck in 2012, the restaurants have had flagging sales recently.

Apolla is an investment firm that has a history of buying troubled companies using borrowed money, until it can sell them for more years later. Otherwise known as a leveraged buyout.

Chuck E. Cheese still might take other proposals from others until Jan. 29, saying it’s been reviewing its strategic options. Those options include a shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill,” which could be used to try to stave off hostile takeovers.

There are currently 577 Chuck E. Cheese locations in 47 states, as well as 10 elsewhere in the world. Then there’s the one from my memory where I’m trapped in a ride that basically goes nowhere but up and around in circles, and Chuck is calling my name from the stage to come sing “Happy Birthday” and I’m TRAPPED. TRAPPED WITH NOWHERE TO GO AND MY BIRTHDAY IS RUINED.

Anyway, good luck, Chuck!

Chuck E. Cheese owner agrees to $950M buyout [Associated Press]