Entertainment One Gains as KKR Weighs Bid to Top ITV’s Proposal

KKR Weighs Bid for Entertainment One
  • Potential bidding contest looms for ‘Peppa Pig’ owner
  • Private-equity firm said to consider offer; ITV was rebuffed

Shares of Entertainment One Ltd. jumped after private-equity firm KKR & Co. emerged as a potential bidder for the film and television distributor, which rejected a proposal by broadcaster ITV Plc last week.

Entertainment One, the owner of the cartoon character “Peppa Pig,” advanced as much as 8.4 percent in London trading. KKR is studying a potential proposal, though no final decision has been made and it could still decide against pursuing it, people familiar with the matter said over the weekend.

KKR’s interest raises the prospects of a bidding contest. Entertainment One rejected ITV’s 236 pence-per-share takeover proposal on Aug. 10, which valued the business at about 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion). The Canadian company said the bid was too low but suggested it would be open to a higher one.

Shares of Entertainment One rose to as much as 258.8 pence, and were up 6.8 percent at 255 pence as of 8:30 a.m. in London. ITV fell 1.2 percent to 197.7 pence.

ITV, which runs television channels that compete with the British Broadcasting Corp., has been building up its production operations in an effort to reduce its dependence on sluggish TV advertising revenue. “Peppa Pig,” a children’s television franchise, generated more than $1 billion in worldwide retail sales in 2015.

A deal for Entertainment One could bolster ITV’s efforts to remain independent after it has been the subject of repeated rounds of takeover speculation. ITV, which is known for shows including “Downton Abbey” and “Coronation Street,” has built up its production business by acquiring companies such as Talpa Media Holding BV, maker of “The Voice” reality singing show, and Mammoth Screen Ltd., which produces the drama “Poldark.”

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