Hasbro has been shopping its production arm Entertainment One for a while at this point, and Lionsgate is now the frontrunner to acquire the company, having gained the inside track over rival suitor Legendary.
After announcing that it planned to shed all but its core business — toys — Hasbro has been fielding bids for its film and TV assets from multiple suitors, including GoDigital Media Group, all while former eOne CEO Darren Throop continues to try to raise financing for the company. Fremantle and CVC Capital Partners also kicked the tires early in the process, though they’re no longer pursuing the acquisition.
Hasbro recently announced plans to cut 20 percent of eOne’s film and television staff in an effort to “substantially reduce costs and increase growth rates and profitability.” The company also parted ways with Nick Meyer, who served as its President of Film.
Lionsgate’s vice chairman, Michael Burns, already sits on the Hasbro board, and Lionsgate has been eager to get bigger and level up, as it’s in the process of separating its film and television studio from its cable network, Starz.
The eOne assets that Hasbro is selling include all film production and related global distribution rights, as well as scripted and unscripted TV production, albeit with the exception of the lucrative Family Brands division responsible for Peppa Pig. The package also includes a library of more than 6,500 film and television titles, as well as Hasbro’s interest in eOne’s Canadian production business.
Hasbro had expected the sale process to wrap up by the end of June, but it’s still ongoing — not surprising given the M&A slow-down in Hollywood as a result of the industry’s uncertain economic state.
Of course, Hasbro bought eOne for $4 billion in 2019 and sold off its music business to private equity firm Blackstone for $385 million in 2021, leaving the film and TV division, and Family Brands, the latter of which now operates as part of Hasbro’s brands, licensing, and merchandising operation.
Deadline broke the news of Lionsgate being in pole position for eOne.