Company Behind Agatha Christie, 'Mr. Men' Properties Likely to Shutter

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Agatha Christie

Private-equity casualty Chorion, which breached loan covenants earlier this year, has appointed DC Partners to manage the fire sale.

LONDON -- Chorion, the company which owns the rights to the Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton and Raymond Chandler franchises as well as the Mr. Men, OliviaPaddington Bear  and Beatrix Potter character rights, will likely be broken up as its assets are sold off to meet its debts.

The move comes a week after its chairman Waheed Alli and deputy chairman William Astorl left the company, which breached its banking covenants earlier this summer.

Millionaire businessman Alli may yet try to acquire parts of the business he has helped build over the past five years, sources close to the company said.

Acquired in 2006 for £136 million by private equity operator 3i, the innovative kids, crime and characters business planned to acquire unexploited intellectual property and generate TV, DVD, licensing and merchandising revenues.

However, the collapse of 2008, weakness in the DVD market and the burden of maintaining interest payments proved to difficult for the management team to overcome.

Control of the sale process is now being handled by debt holders Bank of Ireland, GE Capital and Lloyds, who believe that splitting kids-to-crime business is their best chance to recoup their investment.

They have appointed DC Partners, who carried out an strategic review of the business, to manage the sale.