Mattel to buy Hit Entertainment from Apax Partners for $680 mn

Mattel Inc, the world's largest toy company, today agreed to buy UK-based Hit Entertainment, owner of Bob the Builder, from private-equity firm Apax Partners, for $680 million in cash.

Mattel, which had been vying with other toy and media companies like The Walt Disney Company, Viacom and Hasbro, will now get to own the intellectual property and marketing rights for pre-school toy brands including Thomas & Friends, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina.

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 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.

With more than $180 million of revenues, HIT is one of the largest independent owners of intellectual property for pre-school entertainment. The purchase price equates to a multiple of about 9.5 times trailing earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, said the El Segundo, California-based Mattel.