Entertainment One CEO Says No Sales Process After ITV

(Bloomberg) -- Darren Throop, chief executive officer of Entertainment One Ltd., says there’s no process under way to sell the company after the owner of the cartoon show “Peppa Pig” was approached earlier this year about a takeover by broadcaster ITV Plc.

“We’re not in process," Throop said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Canada Friday. “The board and our shareholders and our management team, we’re focused on what we were focused on before ITV showed up, which was to continue to build the biggest independent media company in the world. That’s where we’re headed.”

Shares in Toronto-based Entertainment One rose as much as 5.4 percent in London Friday after Throop’s comments, before closing down 0.2 percent to 217.7 pence a share. The shares have gained 30 percent this year.

ITV withdrew its 1 billion-pound bid ($1.3 billion) for Entertainment One in August after it was deemed to be too low by management and the board. Livermore Partners Inc., an activist hedge fund based in Northbrook, Illinois, that acquired a stake in Entertainment One this year, called on the company to put itself up for sale after ITV withdrew.

Throop said his preference would be to remain independent.

“I’m really not interested personally, at a personal level, in selling. I’m interested in building,” he said. “I like being independent. Being independent is great.” Throop owns about 2.3 percent of Entertainment One, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, valuing his stake at about 21.9 million pounds.

Much Interest

He acknowledged though, he has a fiduciary duty to weigh any future offers for the company.

"We’re a public company and by virtue of being a public company we have to represent the best interests of the shareholders," he said.

In addition to ITV, Entertainment One had also drawn interest from private-equity firm KKR & Co., according to people familiar with the matter.

Throop said he would keep his focus on building Entertainment One despite plenty of interest in the company.

“There’s a lot of people interested in our business, quite frankly. We’ve had all kinds of calls and we’ll continue to get them because we have a platform that quite frankly is unparalleled in the world," he said.