UPDATED, with statement from ITV: Entertainment One has rejected a takeover approach from UK broadcaster ITV that values the global film and TV indie at about £1 ($1.3B). EOne said the proposal, which ITV has now confirmed, “fundamentally undervalues the company and its prospects.” The statement was made after shares in eOne — which owns The Mark Gordon Company and the lucrative Peppa Pig franchise as well as a vast film and television library — rose by 10% before Tuesday’s close. On Wednesday, shares in eOne were up as much as 8.6% in early morning London trading, to just above the offer price of 236 pence per share, while ITV shares were up .3%.
News first surfaced that ITV was kicking eOne’s tires back in April. Today, eOne said, “The Company confirms that it has received a preliminary proposal with respect to a possible offer valuing the issued and to be issued share capital of the Company at 236 pence per share, which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the Company.
“The Board of eOne has reviewed the Proposal and has unanimously rejected it on the basis that it fundamentally undervalues the Company and its prospects.”
But the door is not fully closed. A spokesman for eOne told Bloomberg, “The ball is now in their court to come up with a better offer. In the meantime, we’re going to carry on with our business.”
A few hours after eOne made its statement, ITV confirmed that it has made a proposal of 236p per share to the board of eOne to combine the two companies which was rejected. It added that the proposal “represents a significant premium over the undisturbed eOne share price, prior to the impact of recent bid speculation.” Here’s more of ITV’s statement:
“ITV has a clear strategy that, over recent years, has created significant value for shareholders. A key part of that strategy is continuing to build a scaled international content and global distribution business, with a focus on US scripted content. ITV believes that the proposed combination with eOne has strong strategic rationale and would further accelerate ITV’s rebalancing of the business.”
According to ITV, its proposal represents a premium of 19.3% over eOne’s share price of 197.90p on August 8 2016, the last business day preceding the Proposal; is 41.1% over eOne’s weighted average share price of 167.28p in the one month period to July 11, 2016, the last business day prior to further speculation; and is 46.7% over eOne’s weighted average share price of 160.89p in the six month period to July 11.
More than 80% of eOne’s sales are outside Britain making it a relatively attractive target for ITV given post-Brexit uncertainty, said Investec analysts last month, per the BBC.
Both eOne and ITV have recently been in acquisitive and expansive moods. Last year, eOne concluded a deal to join Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners along with Participant Media and the Reliance Group in what was essentially the latest incarnation of DreamWorks. The deal, which closed in December, allows eOne to expand its relationship in television production and distribution across additional foreign territories and handle the direct distribution of Amblin Partners films on a multi-territory output basis.
In September, eOne acquired a 70% stake in Peppa Pig producer Astley Baker Davies worth $212M, while the company also acquired a majority stake in the prolific Mark Gordon Company at the start of last year.
A move to acquire eOne falls in line with ITV’s strategy of increasing its ownership of content in order to reduce its reliance on advertising revenue. EOne’s rights library is exploited across all media formats and includes more than 100,000 hours of film and TV content and approximately 40,000 music tracks.
ITV last year bought Boom Supervisory Limited, the holding company of Brit TV production banner Twofour Group. It also has acquired a spate of production companies over the past few years including 100% of John De Mol’s Talpa Media, maker of The Voice. One deal it did not complete, however, was the mooted acquisition of The Weinstein Co’s TV division.
Last month, ITV reported a 9% increase in first-half 2016 adjusted profit before taxes to $558.2M with ITV Studios posting a 42% increase in EBITDA to $158.9M. The company said it would look to cut costs of up to $32.8M across the board in terms of overhead expenditure, but would not affect expenditure on programming or production.