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Noddy and Mr Men company sale backed by BoI

Bank of Ireland is among a group of lenders awaiting the sale of the entertainment company that owns the literary estate of Agatha Christie and the rights to 'Noddy' and the 'Mr Men' books.

UK firm Chorion is on the market and its lenders, including Bank of Ireland, are supporting the sell-off.

Chorion failed to renegotiate its banking facilities and a sale by the banks and its majority private equity company is under way.

The company, which also controls the literary estate of novelist Raymond Chandler, has offices around the world and describes itself as a leader in family entertainment.

Apart from Bank of Ireland, the other lenders are reported to be GE Capital and Lloyds.

Earlier this year the company breached banking covenants and has now appointed DC Advisory Partners to handle a sale of the business.

The company is believed to have about £70m (€80m) in debt, and it is not clear how much of this is owed to Bank of Ireland. All three lenders are senior in rank and have charges over the firm's assets.

Other writing assets owned by Chorion include 'Paddington Bear' and Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five'.

Potential bidders include Disney, Hasbro, Viacom and children's entertainment tycoon Haim Saban.

Bank of Ireland was active over recent years in corporate lending to UK clients, but often participated as part of syndicates.

The company has managed to keep its corporate bad debts well below rates in its Irish book.

The bank recently received a major boost when a group of North American funds and investors stepped forward to provide the bank with fresh capital.

Irish Independent