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TORONTO – Canadian animation giant Cookie Jar Entertainment has agreed to be acquired by rival kids producer DHX Media as part of a cash, stock and debt deal worth $112 million.
The price tag is in Canadian dollars, but the Canadian and U.S. currencies have been virtually on par, so the figure only changes minimally to around $112 million when converting it to U.S. dollars.
Halifax-based DHX Media, which is run by Michael Donovan, will snag Cookie Jar’s library of around 6,000 half hours of classic programming like Arthur, Caillou and Care Bears by offering 36 million DHX shares, $5 million in cash and taking on $66 million in debt.
The deal continues recent kids entertainment industry consolidation after DreamWorks Animation recently agreed to buy Classic Media, and toy giant Mattel previously acquired HIT Entertainment.
The DHX Media takeover of Cookie Jar is seen as keeping a major animation library in Canadian hands.
“It’s another made-in-Canada solution that keeps assets here ,” Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh, who will become executive chairman of the newly-combined entity, said Monday.
Cookie Jar, which in 2008 acquired Burbank-based DIC Entertainment Holdings as part of an $87.6 million merger, originally grew out of the former Cinar animation empire in Montreal.
Hirsh, who along with his co-founders sold rival cartoon producer Nelvana Ltd. in 2000, returned in 2003 to lead a consortium including TD Capital Canadian Private Equity Partners and the giant OMERS pension fund that acquired and took rival Cinar private as part of a $144 million deal.
Besides the animation division, Cookie Jar includes an educational publishing business.
Hirsh said DHX Media has built up a strong kids production business, and Cookie Jar has a growing global distribution business.
Combining the two companies aims to build an even bigger Canadian-based operation, with a major licensing and merchandising business.
“The acquisition of Cookie Jar is a transformational event for DHX that will significantly enhance our scale and our growth opportunities,” DHX Medie’s Donovan said Monday in a statement.