Speculation is mounting over who will make the next move in attempts to take over Canada-based film and TV giant Entertainment One, also known as eOne, following the company’s rejection last week of a 1 billion pound ($1.29 billion) bid by U.K. television company ITV.
Bloomberg reported over the weekend that New York private equity firm KKR & Co. was mulling a bid for eOne, while the Mail on Sunday claimed ITV is prepared to raise its offer to 1.2 billion pounds ($1.55 billion). Entertainment One did not reject ITV’s first bid outright, but said it undervalued the company and its prospects. Germany’s ProSeiben and France’s Vivendi are also considering moves on eOne, according to the Financial Times Monday.
ITV’s first offer was for 236 pence ($3.05) a share. ITV is now mulling bids of up to 280 pence ($3.62) a share, according to the Mail on Sunday. Shares in eOne rose almost 7% to 255 pence ($3.29) Monday morning U.K. time (Entertainment One is headquartered in Toronto, but is listed on the London Stock Exchange.)
Entertainment One would be an ideal takeover target for companies like ITV looking to bulk up on content rights. Entertainment One is the majority owner of Astley Baker Davies, the company behind animation franchise Peppa Pig. It also holds a 51% stake in the Mark Gordon Company, which produces medical series “Grey’s Anatomy,” and is a partner alongside Steven Spielberg, Participant Media and Reliance Entertainment in Amblin Partners, which produced Spielberg’s “The BFG.”
Entertainment One also has film distribution operations in the U.K., Canada, Spain, the Benelux, Australia and New Zealand. These would be of no interest to a TV company like ITV, and would likely be sold off.
Neither KKR nor ITV would comment on today’s speculation.