HIT Ent. Plc, maker of the popular preschool series Bob the Builder, has a new suitor in New York-based property rights manager Classic Media. According to Reuters, the company has become the latest combatant in a billion-dollar bidding war that involves Canada’s Lions Gate Ent., and London-based private equity firm Apax Partners.
Last month, HIT agreed to be acquired by Apax for $917.1 million. This past Sunday, however, Lions Gate entered the picture with intentions to place a bid that sources say may reach $1billion.
Lions Gate’s family entertainment business has been booming with direct-to-video releases based on Mattel’s Barbie toyline and Scholastic’s Clifford the Big Red Dog books, among others. The company also has plans to release toon videos based on the Marvel comics franchise, The Avengers.
With such hot properties as Barney the Dinosaur and Thomas the Tank Engine, HIT’s stable would also be a welcomed addition to the Classic Media library, which includes Mr. Magoo, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Peter Cottontail Rocky and Bullwinkle, Underdog and Lambchop.
Despite the popularity of Bob the Builder and other HIT commodities, the company has seen home video, licensing and retail revenues slide considerably in the past year, making it a prime target for take-over.