By Tanishaa Nadkar and Noor Zainab Hussain
(Reuters) - Shares in Peppa Pig and PJ Masks-owner Entertainment One rose almost 39% to a record high on Friday, surpassing the $4 billion price tag agreed with U.S. toy maker Hasbro, in a sign that investors see a chance of a counter offer. The deal agreed by the Nerf and Power Rangers-maker was four times the 1 billion-pound ($1.22 billion) takeover offer which eOne rejected from UK commercial broadcaster ITV in 2016 as undervaluing the company. Some analysts, however, suggest the deal may not be cast in stone, questioning how the part of eOne's business that is not aimed at infants and preschoolers will fit in with Hasbro's offering of children's toys or dolls. Entertainment One also distributes movies aimed at an adult audience in a number of markets, which might make its film production and distribution arms of interest to Disney or another leading company in a media and streaming sector that is deep in flux, according to analysts. "The big question you should now be asking is whether someone else will make a bid for Entertainment now it is in play," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. "It wouldn't be surprising to see Amazon, or Netflix want to throw their hat in the ring given how Entertainment One has such a big library of content which they need in order to keep customers loyal to their streaming platforms," he said. Under the deal, yet to be approved by shareholders, eOne investors will receive 560 pence per share, a premium of 26.4% to Thursday's close. Entertainment One's shares rose as high as 616 pence on Friday, indicating investors thought the value of the shares could yet prove higher.
Hasbro's shares were down 4.9% at $108.79 in premarket trade. Entertainment One, which started life as a Canadian record and tape retailer, recently signed a multi-year production deal with award-winning producer Mark Gordon, who has worked on "Saving Private Ryan" and "Grey's Anatomy". It would make sense for Hasbro to buy eOne for the family and brands division, said Fiona Orford Williams, director and media analyst at Edison Group. It is less clear how the film, TV and music division fits in with the enlarged Hasbro group, she said. "I am trying to imagine Mark Gordon for example, fitting into a large portion of Hasbro and I'm struggling," she said. Analysts said another ITV bid for eOne was unlikely, given its lack of deep pockets. ITV's shares were 4.7% higher, taking the second spot on the bluechip index.
ITV, Amazon and Disney did not respond to requests for comment, while a spokesman for Netflix said the company does not comment on speculation.
($1 = 0.8189 pounds)
(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Kirsten Donovan)