Owner Apax Partners is making good on late-October reports, officially appointing Bank of America Merill Lynch to handle the sales process of HIT Entertainment in its entirety.
With a recent US$1.5 billion valuation for HIT in-hand, Merill Lynch will be charged with officially engaging interested parties on behalf of Apax and is in the early stages of the process.
US-based kids entertainment giants Disney, Hasbro, Mattel and Viacom have all shown interest in the UK firm, driven primarily by top property Thomas the Tank Engine. The IP’s merchandise sales have shot up by 50% this year thanks in large part to a master toy deal with Mattel’s Fisher-Price and a surge in popularity in Asia, particularly China and Japan. Unspecified Asian buyers have also expressed interest.