Paddington Bear seeks new home

The television rights to Paddington Bear, worth as much as pounds 10m, are up for sale, with a leading Canadian television producer the most likely buyer, writes Mathew Horsman.

The rights, bought for pounds 1.5m just seven years ago by Caspian, the media company that now owns Leeds United, have attracted a bid from Cinar, the Montreal-based maker of childrens' programmes.

Advisers to the two sides are in late-stage negotiations, and it is thought likely that the principals will have face-to-face meetings at Mipcom, the annual TV sales shindig, now under way in Cannes, France.

The deal, if it goes ahead, will mark a further explosion in the value of lucrative rights to revered childrens' characters. The rights to Sooty were sold earlier this year to a group led by Guinness Mahon, the merchant bank.

Caspian declined to comment on the talks, but conceded publicly that discussions were under way. Cinar's chief executive, Ron Weinberg, did not return calls.

The sale of the rights to Paddington Bear, the fictional creation of Michael Bond (pictured with his wife, Brenda, above), follows a strategic decision by Caspian to concentrate on its core media and sport rights, sources close to company said yesterday.

"The company took the view that it should either increase its investment in this kind of business or sell it off," one source said.

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