Takeover to Hit deadline

Lions Gate, Classic Media mulling rival bids

LONDON — Hit Entertainment, the British company behind “Barney” and “Bob the Builder,” has given stockholders three weeks to decide upon its £489 million ($880 million) takeover by equity group Apax Partners.

Offer, mailed to investors Tuesday night, should concentrate minds at Lions Gate Entertainment and Classic Media, both of which are mulling rival bids.

The pair approached Hit last weekend, seeking detailed financial information ahead of any bid.

Lions Gate, distributor of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Inspector Gadget,” is considering bolstering its family entertainment library with an unsolicited bid that could exceed $1 billion.

Hit confirmed it was investigating “two unsolicited, early stage” approaches but said it was pressing ahead with the Apax deal.

Company has slated April 28 for an extraordinary meeting to vote on the offer likely to be determined by who comes up with the most coin.

The Apax offer has won approval from shareholders owning 35% of the company, including those held by Hit founder and chairman Peter Orton.