ITV could make a £680m offer for company behind Peppa Pig
UTV's new owners ITV could be eyeing up Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One.
The UK broadcaster has reportedly been holding preliminary talks with the Canadian distributor and producer.
Decision-makers at ITV are said to be considering making an offer of £680m. However, a spokesperson for Entertainment One denied claims an offer had been made.
Shares in Entertainment One jumped 11% hours after the speculation surfaced, while ITV shares remained flat, rising by less than half a percent.
ITV is said to have had preliminary talks with the Canadian group, which owns a majority stake in the cartoon franchise Peppa Pig, about a potential deal, but no decision has been taken yet.
The rumours come just three weeks after UTV unveiled its new ITV-style branding.
It bought UTV's television assets as part of a £100m deal, revealed by the Belfast Telegraph.
ITV is the UK's biggest private broadcaster and is said to be considering buying TV production assets to cut its reliance on cyclical advertising revenues.
Entertainment One employs over 1,700 people worldwide and is included in the FTSE 250 Index.
The firm specialises in the acquisition, production and distribution of film and television content. Last year its library of rights was valued over at £700m.
Entertainment One owns rights to over 40,000 film and television titles and 45,000 music tracks.
The company became a takeover target after it acquired majority stakes in the Mark Gordon Company, the company behind medical drama Grey's Anatomy and creator of Peppa Pig.
Over the past 12 months, the company's share price has dropped by 50% and in December it had to issue £285m in new debt to replace its existing facilities.
Cash flow at Entertainment One remains negative as it has had to invest heavily in new films and programmes months ahead of their release.