U.K. firm may buy crime sector of rights co.

LONDON — British rights firm Coolabi is reportedly in talks to buy the crime division of Chorion, the privately owned media rights company, in a deal worth up to £50 ($73 million).

Coolabi, which owns the rights to titles including “Fungus the Bogeyman,” suspended trading on the London Alternative Investment Market on Wednesday indicating it was in early negotiations that could, in effect, lead to a reverse takeover since the value of Chorion’s assets are greater than Coolabi’s market value.

A spokeswoman for Coolabi confirmed the talks, but wouldn’t confirm whom they were with.

However, the London Financial Times reported that Chorion is the target.

Chorion owns the rights to the literary estates of crime writers Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and Georges Simenon.

TV shows based on Chrstie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot and Chandler’s famous gumshoe, Philip Marlowe, continue to do good business for international broadcasters and movie studios.

If a deal occurs, and sources indicate that talks have some way to go, Coolabi’s management, ex-Chorion toppers Jeremy Banks and Nick James, would be reunited with the Christie portfolio.

Chorion is controlled by private equity group 3i and its executive chairman is Waheed Alli, the U.K. media entrepreneur who is a highly influential in the U.K. indie sector.

Coolabi licenses rights to properties that include Hammer Film Prods., “Bagpuss,” “The Clangers” and “Ivor the Engine,” and is also involved in TV production.

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