MONTREAL (AP) -- Troubled toy maker Mega Brands Inc. has appointed a U.S. toy company executive as its new chief operations officer in a bid to shore up its Chinese production and service to key customers.
Anthony Bazan, who will report directly to CEO Marc Bertrand, comes from Jakks Pacific, where he was responsible for global manufacturing and sourcing.
''We've had lots of candidates, lots of interest for the position and we think he's the right man to do this for us,'' Bertrand said in an interview.
Bazan will spend half his time in China and half at Mega Brands base in Montreal.
The key operational challenges are servicing customer orders, ensuring strong inventory flows and building strong relationships with vendors, Bertrand said.
''He's solid in operational management, very results-driven, very hands on in the process and gets very close with his team as well as his vendor partners to meet the goals,'' Bertrand added.
California-based Jakks is the No. 3 toy maker in the United States, behind Mattel and Hasbro. Among its products are licensed toys for WWF, Pokemon, Hannah Montana and some Disney products.
Mega Brands is in the process of manufacturing its new MagNext magnetic toy that will replace Magnetix, which has been the subject of several safety recalls. The redesigned product is expected to be introduced to North America this fall.
Earlier this month, ratings agency Moody's lowered Mega Brands to B2 from B1 amid lower-than-expected sales of its Magnetix products and special charges related to a new recall and related litigation costs.
Mega Brands, which makes and markets construction toys, games and puzzles, arts and crafts and stationery, recently reported a loss of $66.2 million for its fourth quarter of 2007.
The company is trying to sell its stationery and activities division in an effort to cut its large debt.
That process is proceeding as planned and should be completed around September.
Mega Brands has had interest from more than 25 companies and is speaking with potential buyers.
The division is expected to fetch about US$220 million.
In Toronto, Mega Brand shares rose 23 cents, or 6.37 per cent, to $3.84 in afternoon trading. Company shares have fallen from $24.01 to $2.90 in the past year.