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Peppa Pig owner sees profits dip amid restructuring of film arm

Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One has seen annual profits dive by 22% after taking a £47 million hit from restructuring its film arm.

The Canada-based, UK-listed media group posted bottom line profits of £37.2 million for the 12 months to March 31, down from £47.9 million the previous year.

Shares rose more than 1% after its results were better than feared, despite the impact of the film overhaul, which was revealed earlier this month.

The group also confirmed it was on track with aims to double the size of the business by 2020.

Entertainment One is shifting its film business towards digital content and said it would be producing fewer, bigger movies.

Its film division, eOne, is one of the biggest independent movie firms in the world and has 200 releases due over the current financial year, including Steven Spielberg's The Post starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep and George Clooney's Suburbicon.

The group took a £27 million one-off cost as a result of the reshaping of its film division, while it also booked a £20 million charge from renegotiating a new distribution arrangement.

But with the one-off charges stripped out, annual pre-tax profits were 25% higher at £130 million.

Its results showed u nderlying full-year earnings in its film business were flat at £52.7 million, while it invested £142.6 million in buying and producing titles and expects to increase this to around £150 million over the current year.

The performance in its television arm was stronger, with underlying earnings surging by 60% to £62.8 million.

Its family-focused business, which includes popular children's TV show Peppa Pig, saw earnings lift 28% to £55.6 million.

Entertainment One recently announced it will produce 117 new episodes of Peppa Pig, which has become a global success story in recent years.

Production has already begun on the new series, which will bring the total number of shows to 381.

The firm has also signed new licensing deals which will extend the global domination of the cartoon character.

Entertainment One raked in 1.2 billion US dollars (£924 million) of total Peppa Pig retail sales over the year, helped by retail licences in America.

Animation studio Astley Baker Davies will produce the new series, which is scheduled to launch in spring 2019.

The group is also making a second series of children's show PJ Masks, with season three also in the pipeline.

Entertainment One has been the subject of takeover approaches, with ITV abandoning a £1 billion pursuit of the firm last year after its initial offer was snubbed.

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