Bob the Builder HITs the jackpot after £475m offer

Hit Entertainment, home to Bob the Builder, Captain Pugwash and Barney the Dinosaur, is on the verge of being acquired for £475m.

The US media groups Lions Gate Entertainment and Comcast Communications are seen as possible bidders for HIT, which confirmed yesterday it was in late-stage takeover discussions, after a rise in its share price.

Talks are continuing between HIT and its suitor over the weekend, with an announcement expected in the next few days. The group said a 300p-a-share offer might be made. By the end of trading, HIT's shares were up 43p, or 17.2 per cent, at 293.25p. The company said it had the consent of the bidder to release its holding statement.

John de Mol, a founder of Endemol, the producer of Big Brother, has built up a stake of more than 10 per cent in HIT but is not thought to be the mystery bidder.

HIT, founded by its chairman Peter Orton in 1989, built its fortune on the back of its Bob the Builder character, expanding it from videos into a wide range of merchandising. HIT has grown rapidly in the US, buying Barney the Dinosaur which it has been developing in the UK. Other HIT characters include Thomas the Tank Engine, which has also been exported to the US.

Lions Gate is one of America's biggest independent studios and has a thriving family entertainment division which owns the rights to characters such as Inspector Gadget and the Hulk. It is understood to have been examining HIT as a possible acquisition but is known to have been concerned about the price HIT was asking for.

Comcast Communications is one of America's leading cable television and high-speed internet companies. Last year it mounted a hostile takeover bid for the Walt Disney Company and already has a commercial relationship with HIT.

The UK business has invested in a new 24-hour digital channel for US pre-school children in a joint venture with Comcast. The deal caused anxiety among some investors who feared HIT would have to show its material on the Comcast channel before other networks.

HIT has suffered from difficult trading in recent times. A statement in January said its consumer products licensing business was suffering weak trading. It said orders from certain major US trading partners would fall in the second half of the year, hitting half-year results compared with the previous year.

HIT has expanded aggressively with bids for rivals, such as its 2002 acquisition of its quoted rival Gullane which not only brought with it Thomas the Tank Engine but also properties such as the Guinness World Records business.

HIT's intellectual property is broadcast in 180 countries. Other characters include Pingu and Angelina Ballerina.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam