February 13, 2012 / 10:10 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 3-Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One drops sale process

* Company says did not receive attractive offers

* To now focus on making acquisitions

* Stock closes down 18 percent

By A. Ananthalakshmi

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Entertainment One Ltd, known for its children’s TV series Peppa Pig, said it was no longer considering a sale of the company, as it had not received any attractive buyout offers, and would focus instead on acquisitions.

According to a person familiar with the situation, the company was in early discussions for a significant acquisition, but declined to provide further details.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment.

Shares of the company, which produces and distributes film and television content, closed down 17.84 percent on Monday despite forecasting strong full-year results.

“The board has considered various proposals that have been made for all or parts of the group and has concluded that these do not adequately reflect the company’s value,” Entertainment One said.

The company, valued at about 370 million pounds ($584.36 million), said in a statement that its financial advisers Credit Suisse and JP Morgan were evaluating a number of acquisition opportunities for the company.

Singer Capital Markets analyst Johnathan Barrett said the financing and macro environments would have materially affected value calculations on the part of bidders.

The company had been betting on the huge popularity of its Peppa Pig character to attract potential buyers. In September, Entertainment One said it had received a string of takeover approaches.

The pig’s cult status has put it on a par with Thomas the Tank Engine, and it was even courted by Britain’s Labour Party to appear as a mascot prior to the 2010 general election.

Peppa Pig is the number one pre-school UK toy and is gaining traction around the world. Entertainment One, which opened the Peppa Pig World theme park in Hampshire in April 2011, is also planning on launching its toys range in the United States in time for the 2012 Christmas season.

SURPRISE DEVELOPMENT

Peel Hunt analyst Patrick Yau said he was surprised by the halt in the sale process as the company had built strong momentum in its businesses.

“We remain positive on the underlying fundamentals of the business and would see this as a buying opportunity for longer term investors to come on board,” Yau wrote in a note.

Entertainment One’s stock fell almost 20 percent to a low of 160 pence on Monday -- paring most of its gains since September, when the company announced that it had received takeover approaches.

British private equity firm Marwyn Investment Management, which owns about 40 percent of the company, had bought the then Toronto-listed Entertainment One in 2007 and taken it public on London’s Alerternative Investment Market immediately thereafter.

The company, which is the UK distributor of the Twilight movies and holds rights to some 20,000 film and television titles, said it expects to report full year results in line with market expectations and that EBITDA margins improved.

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