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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn