When you have young children, one of the channels you will probably end up watching a lot is Sprout Network that features an array of shows from HIT Entertainment. One of the biggest HIT characters is Thomas the Tank Engine. But things for HIT Entertainment haven’t been that great lately, and with the company in debt, they had to put out the For Sale sign. In case you haven’t noticed, Thomas the Tank engine still sells a lot of toys, which is probably why Mattel swooped in and bought the company on the cheap.
Cheap may be a bit of an understatement, as Deadline has HIT selling for $680 million in cash. That’s $20 million less than what the company wanted, and way less than the $890 million the company sold for back 2005. The owner of HIT, Apax Partners, didn’t give up everything though, Apax will still hold on to the 30% stake in Sprout network in anticipation that NBC Universal will buy it out for complete control of the network.
While Thomas the Tank Engine represents 80% of HIT’s revenue, Mattel also got their hands on Barney, Bob the BUilder, Angelina Ballerina, and Pingu. This is a huge win for Mattel, as they used to license the Thomas character from HIT for the toys sold in the U.S.