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Disney eyes further acquisitions of character firms

Disney is eyeing further acquisitions of character companies following its purchase of Marvel Entertainment last year.

This comes after the Hollywood studio was linked with a bid for British kids producer and distributor Hit Entertainment, which holds the rights for brands including Thomas The Tank Engine, Bob The Builder and Barney.

President and chief executive Bob Iger told investors, following its latest financial results, that it was continuing to look for new properties. “We don’t have what I’d call a strategic hole, but we’ve looked expansively at opportunities across the world to buy either new characters or businesses that are capable of creating great characters and great stories for those characters.”

Disney, along with Mattel, Hasbro and a raft of private equity firms, was linked with a bid for Hit, that could reach up to US$1.5 billion. However, Iger stressed the company would not overpay for properties. “Because there isn’t a great strategic hole to fill, we’ve got so many already, it will be judicious in what we’d be willing to pay for them,” he added.

Iger noted that it would continue to expand the company internationally and wanted to follow its recent move in India, where it has offered to acquire full control of film and TV studio UTV, with moves into China. “We’re going to continue to deploy capital in this direction. We like growth in international markets, I mentioned Shanghai earlier. India clearly is another example of a high-growth market that we think investing in at least in today’s world is a smart move,” he said.

Disney is also in talks with online video service Netflix, which has announced ambitious global roll out plans in countries including Latin America and the UK. “We’re in discussions with Netflix and with a number of other entities in the space. And I think it’s likely that we will make more deals in this space,” Iger said.