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Lions Gate Nixes HIT Bid Speculation

5 May, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Lions Gate Entertainment is passing on Bob the Builder, Barney and Thomas & Friends.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based studio declined to submit a bid for London-based HIT Entertainment, creators of numerous children's brands, an offer some observers felt might top $1 billion.

“After our review of due diligence materials, we have determined that although HIT would be a potentially strong strategic fit, a Lions Gate/HIT transaction does not create the level of additional shareholder value that would be a prerequisite for moving forward,” said Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lions Gate, in a statement.

The announcement would appear to clear the way for a 300-pence-per-share, or £489 million ($927 million), buyout offer from London-based private equity investment group Apax Partners & Co.

The Apax bid, which was endorsed by HIT management in March and approved by shareholders in April, is expected to close May 24.

HIT, which returned Bob the Builder and Thomas & Friends to U.S. television in January, is reportedly in the process of launching a cable program with Comcast and a separate children's radio service.

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