Peppa Pig firm gets go-ahead for movie deal

THE INDEPENDENT film company behind Peppa Pig and the Twilight films will close its purchase of movie distributor Alliance Films imminently, after the London-listed company won approval from Canadian competition authorities.

Entertainment One is likely to complete the C$225m (£141.2m) deal next week, sources close to the deal said. The company said yesterday that it “is now clear to complete the acquisition, which it intends to do as soon as possible”.

Relief at the clearance pushed shares in Entertainment One up more than six per cent yesterday. “This is good news in our view given a relatively high film market share in Canada,” Investec analyst Steve Liechti said.

The acquisition will give Entertainment One a roster of films including the King’s Speech and the Hunger Games series.

The latter in particular is crucial for Entertainment One, after the ending of the popular Twilight vampire franchise raised questions over the company’s blockbuster potential.

Other films in Alliance’s catalogue include the Lord of the Rings trilogy and movies made from Stieg Larsson’s novels. The deal will create the largest independent film distribution company in the UK and Canada.

“A further announcement will be made in due course,” the company said yesterday.

Entertainment One funded the deal with a £110m share placing. It is buying Alliance Films from investors including Goldman Sachs and the Quebec government.

ADVISERS
ENTERTAINMENT ONE’S BLOCKBUSTER DEAL

HARRY HAMPSON
JP MORGAN CAZENOVE

MEDIA investment banking chief Harry Hampson has acted as an adviser to Entertainment One for some time, having led a strategic review that could have led to the company seeking a sale last year. Entertainment One was rumoured to be approached by Zodiak Media Group towards the end of 2011, but decided on a major acquisition of its own following the review.

Canadian-born Hampson was a key player in a number of high-profile media deals in recent years, including the sale of Channel 5 to Richard Desmond, and Elisabeth Murdoch’s sale of her company Shine to her father Rupert’s News Corp.

Hampson also worked on News Corp’s failed bid for BSkyB, which would have been the biggest media deal in UK history. Last year, he become head of the bank’s Financial Sponsors Group which advises private equity firms, for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Hampson was joined on the deal by JP Morgan Cazenove’s Nicholas Hall and Virginia Khoo.

Long-time financial adviser Alastair Blackman at Credit Suisse also worked on the deal for Entertainment One.

Cenkos Securities’ Growth Companies team was the company’s broker and joint bookrunner on the £110m fundraising