Pingu joins Bob and Barney at Hit

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The Independent Online

Pingu the Penguin is to join Barney the Dinosaur and Bob the Builder in the stable of children's characters owned by Hit Entertainment.

The rights and animation company revealed the acquisition of the penguin yesterday along with its full-year results.

It paid £15.9m for the chirpy character. Pingu comes with 105 episodes of 5 minutes each and a half-hour special. Due to its previously fragmented rights, the show has only received significant exposure in Japan and the UK. Last year in Japan it generated £2m of sales.

Peter Orton, chairman of Hit, said: "The rationale behind the acquisitions is that Hit's strengths in global television distribution and consumer products provides tremendous growth opportunities for the property." The company said that focus group testing among children in the US had shown that Pingu – who does not talk but makes sounds - was very appealing and that it had "strong potential" in America. Hit's chief executive Rob Lawes said the company had been trying to obtain Pingu for three years.

Hit reported underlying profit for the year ended 31 July up 53 per cent to £7.7m. However, due to the group's adoption of US accounting rules, a £3.6m amortisation charge meant that the bottom line figure fell to £2.8m, from £4.5m previously.