By Nivedita Balu
(Reuters) - Hasbro Inc <HAS.O> will buy Entertainment One Ltd <ETO.L> for about $4 billion (3.27 billion pounds) in cash, expanding into the lucrative infant and preschool market by gaining access to popular TV shows like Peppa Pig and PJ Masks.
The deal for the independent studio will give the Nerf and Power Rangers toymaker more exposure in its content media push, where it has been buying smaller firms and tying up with major movie studios to boost sales of toys linked to movie franchises.
Last year, it spent about $520 million to add children's entertainment and merchandising franchises, including the characters of the superhero TV show Power Rangers.
Hasbro has also linked up with Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney and has seen growth with Marvel's "Avengers" toys.
Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said Hasbro will leverage eOne's brands to expand opportunities globally.
"The acquisition of eOne adds beloved story-led global family brands that deliver strong operating returns to Hasbro's portfolio and provides a pipeline of new brand creation driven by family-oriented storytelling," Goldner said.
Peppa Pig, which brings in the bulk of revenue at eOne, is a popular show that is streamed on several platforms across the globe and has been grabbing more sales with the growing popularity of its toys and merchandise.
Jackie Breyer, group publisher at trade magazine 'the Toy Book', said the latest deal shows Hasbro's efforts to build its entertainment brands and not just toys. Breyer also highlighted Hasbro's foray into the United Kingdom being a bonus.
"This is a huge deal," Breyer said.
Hasbro will pay 5.60 pounds per share, a premium of 26.4% to eOne's close of 4.43 pounds on Thursday. Hasbro will also finance the buy with debt and $1.0 billion to $1.25 billion in cash from equity financing, the companies said.
Hasbro sees annual run rate synergies of about $130 million by 2022, helped by savings from a portion of eOne's toy business in-house and improving the profitability of its licensing and merchandising activities.
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Shares of Hasbro were down 5% in extended trading.
Centerview Partners LLC is serving as financial adviser to Hasbro and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP are serving as its legal counsel.
J.P. Morgan Cazenove is eOne's financial adviser and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Mayer Brown International LLP are serving as its legal counsel.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson in San Francisco, Nivedita Balu and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Bernard Orr)