Speculation is intensifying that Lionsgate is getting closer to a deal to acquire the Hasbro-owned Entertainment One.
The timing is not coincidental. Hasbro is set to report second-quarter 2023 earnings Thursday morning. The company’s CEO Chris Cocks had said in February that “we expect to have an update in the second quarter,” so he probably would like to give investors said update on the Q2 call.
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Sources close to the situation caution that, while there is an effort to close the deal by Thursday, negotiations are ongoing and they may not be completed in time for the Hasbro earnings announcement. Reps for Hasbro and Lionsgate declined comment or did not respond to a request for comment.
M&A — and all dealmaking — in Hollywood has slowed down amid overall economic woes and two strikes against the studios, one by the WGA and one by SAG-AFTRA.
Deadline revealed last month that Lionsgate had taken the pole position on the eOne acquisition. The indie studio had been more recently bidding for the eOne film and TV assets put up for sale by Hasbro alongside Legendary and distributor GoDigital Media Group, with former eOne CEO Darren Throop also in the mix via another effort to raise financing.
Lionsgate, whose vice chair Michael Burns sits on the Hasbro board, is in the process of separating its film and TV studio from Starz.
In preparation for the potential sale, eOne underwent multiple rounds of layoffs over the last few months that impacted about 20% of the indie studio’s film and television staff. Hasbro’s plan, announced in January, involves cutting 15% of the company’s global workforce this year, or about 1,000 positions.
The eOne assets that have been put up for sale by Hasbro include all scripted and unscripted TV production (except for the Family Brands division housing such staples as Peppa Pig and PJ Masks); all film production and related global distribution; a 6,500-plus title content library; and Hasbro’s interest in eOne’s Canadian film and TV business.
Hasbro bought eOne in 2019 for $4 billion when the company was divided into three divisions: Music, which has been sold; Family Brands, which Hasbro has rolled into its brands licensing and merchandising operation; and Film and TV. Hasbro previously sold eOne’s music business to private equity firm Blackstone in 2021 for $385 million.
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