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BBC Hires Bankers For Teletubbies Sale

(c) Sky News 2012

The BBC's commercial arm is pursuing a sale of its interest in the company behind the global profile of The Teletubbies despite a potential delay to the arrival of its next chief executive.

I understand that DC Advisory Partners, a City firm, has been asked to canvas bidders for Ragdoll Worldwide, a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Anne Wood, the founder of one of the most prolific producers of children's television in Britain.

Insiders said that DC was expected to begin approaching potential bidders for at least the BBC Worldwide stake, likely to include The Walt Disney Company, in the coming weeks.

In addition to The Teletubbies, Ragdoll Worldwide owns the rights to programming produced by Ragdoll Productions including In The Night Garden and The Adventures of Abney & Teal.

The joint venture was established in 2006.

BBC Worldwide announced in October that John Smith, its long-serving chief executive, would step down in December and be replaced by Tim Davie, the corporation's director of audio and music.

Since that succession plan was unveiled, the BBC has been stunned by Newsnight's erroneous implication that Lord McAlpine, the Conservative Peer, had been a paedophile, and the string of lurid allegations about sexual abuse committed by Jimmy Savile.

The BBC's handling of events led to the departure last weekend of George Entwistle, its director-general, with Mr Davie asked to step in as his temporary replacement.

Mr Davie is still expected to take over at BBC Worldwide once Mr Entwistle's successor is appointed.

It is unclear whether Ms Wood or Ragdoll's management have any interest in selling their interest in the joint venture.

City sources said that DC had been appointed to handle the sale because of its successful auctioning of the assets of Chorion, the intellectual property company which held the rights to the Mr Men and parts of Enid Blyton's literary estate.

In a statement, a BBC Worldwide spokeswoman confirmed DC's hiring, saying that it would advise both partners "on the best future strategy to maximise the value of their joint venture Ragdoll Worldwide Limited. Whilst a sale of the rights held within the joint venture is a potential route, this is just one of the many options that we are exploring".