Purchase prompts speculation of takeover bid

LONDON — U.K. distrib Helkon SK has bought a 3.67% stake in the publicly listed sales company Winchester Entertainment.

The purchase has prompted speculation that Helkon is plotting a takeover bid for Winchester, whose stock has cratered over the past year. But Helkon SK chief exec Simon Franks said he had no “imminent” plans to make any further moves.

Nonetheless, Franks has previously made it clear that he believes Helkon SK must expand beyond the confines of the U.K. distribution biz in order to maintain its growth rate.

He and his partner Zygi Kamasa are in the final stages of negotiating the buyout of their company from Helkon Medien, the insolvent German firm that owns 51% of Helkon SK.

Winchester’s stock price jumped from 12.5 pence (19¢) to 28¢ on news of the deal, before falling back to 26¢. The financial value of the Helkon purchase was not announced, but at that closing price, the stake is worth roughly $260,000.

Winchester’s stock peaked at $5.58 in November 2000. Shortly afterward the company raised $36 million by placing a tranche of new shares at $4.48. But since then, a series of financial stumbles have dragged down its standing among investors to its current nadir.

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