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Chorion sells rights to The World of Beatrix Potter and The Octonauts

New company backed by media rights firm’s former chairman Lord Waheed Alli buys assets for undisclosed sum

Media rights business Chorion has sold the rights to The World of Beatrix Potter and The Octonauts to a new company backed by its former chairman Lord Waheed Alli for an undisclosed sum.

They are the first assets to be sold by Chorion following the decision by its senior bankers to break up the business after it failed to renegotiate a £70m debt burden run up in the wake of a leveraged buyout of the business by Alli and private equity firm 3i.

Chorion is expected to be broken up with the sale process being overseen by DC Advisory Partners. Assets expected to be sold separately include Agatha Christie’s literary estate as well as the Mr Men books, Paddington Bear and Enid Blyton’s Noddy. The family of Agatha Christie are thought to be contenders to buy the Christie literary estate.

Silvergate Media, the new company backed by Alli, beat “significant interest” from rival bidders to land Potter and underwater explorers The Octonauts. The properties are not thought to be profitable because merchandising revenue from TV series based on both properties has yet to take off.

Alli is understood to have financed the purchase with the help of the sale of half his £30m stake in online fashion retailer ASOS last week.

Alli resigned from Chorion last month, along with its deputy chairman William Astor, after he was unable to find a new backer for the company. Both his stake in the business and that held by 3i are thought to be worthless, with cash raised from sales going to pay off Chorion’s banks.

Chorion, which is continuing to trade ahead of budget, was taken private by private equity group 3i in 2006. Its lenders, including GE Capital, Bank of Ireland and Lloyds Banking Group forced its sale after it suffered poor Christmas trading last year.

Earnings dropped to an estimated £5m in its most recent financial year.

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