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Planned Chorion in-house buyout aims to speed up TV development

Chorion's U.K.-based management team, with the help of international private equity firm 3i, tabled a hefty bid to take the company private in late February. The hope is to get the house of classic preschool series Noddy de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and cut the time it's been taking for the company to bring new kids properties to market. An estimated US$195 million bid has been recommended to shareholders by Chorion's non-executive board members.
April 1, 2006

Chorion’s U.K.-based management team, with the help of international private equity firm 3i, tabled a hefty bid to take the company private in late February. The hope is to get the house of classic preschool series Noddy de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and cut the time it’s been taking for the company to bring new kids properties to market. An estimated US$195 million bid has been recommended to shareholders by Chorion’s non-executive board members.

Whether or not the offer is formally accepted depends on the outcome of a London Stock Exchange process named Scheme of Arrangement. Here’s how it works: An offer is put to the non-executive members of the board, who decide whether or not to recommend it to the shareholders. They, in turn, have six weeks to vote on it and if the result is favorable, the bid is accepted.

While this lengthy process ensues, other interested parties can table bids. Before putting their names into the hat, potential bidders are welcome to take a look at the company’s books. Chorion management confirmed representatives from HIT Entertainment have perused the data. But despite rumors in the British media, the U.K. producer of Bob The Builder had yet to make a formal play for Chorion at press time.

Chorion’s CEO, Nicholas James, says taking the company private will make it easier to invest more heavily in nascent IPs and bring them to TV and ancillary markets at a faster clip, because there’s less red tape to deal with in the private sphere.

The management-led buyout has been in the works since December, and James says his company’s acquisition of New York’s Silver Lining Productions last September has been a driving force in getting the deal going. ‘We think Silver Lining has some great properties, and we’d like to invest in those and bring them to market sooner rather than later.’

Diana Manson, Silver Lining’s co-founder, says Chorion’s plans to go private can only help her properties, such as stylish and sassy Olivia from author Ian Falconer’s book series. ‘It just means that they raise money from people who understand our business,’ she says, adding success in the television world requires getting things done quicker than the public sector often permits.

The result will be announced in the middle of this month. Meanwhile, Chorion is working hard to bring its new TV take on 35-year-old property Mr. Men to market in 2007. DW

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