Mattel close to buying Hit Entertainment for $789 mn: report

Mattel Inc, the world's largest toy company, is close to buying UK-based Hit Entertainment, owner of Bob the Builder, for over £500 million ($789 million), Sky News yesterday said, citing sources.

Mattel, which had been vying with other toy and media companies like The Walt Disney Company, Viacom and Hasbro, may announce the deal this week, the paper said.

Hit Entertainment is one of the world's leading children's entertainment producers and rights-owners with a portfolio of brands that include Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Barney, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu, Rainbow Magic and Mike the Knight.

Launched in 1989, Hit Entertainment's lines of business span television, video and movie production, content distribution, publishing, consumer products licensing, live events and attractions.

Hit's catalog comprises over 1,500 hours of children's programming in 240 countries and in over 45 different languages. Hit also claims to produce more than 900 minutes of new programming a year.

London-based Private-equity firm Apax Partners took Hit private in May 2005 in an $890 million deal. About 80 per cent of its profits come from children's character Thomas the Tank Engine toy and TV-shows.

Mattel will likely integrate Hit Entertainment's assets into its Fisher Price toy division.