BBC Worldwide to buy 2entertain

LONDON — BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm, is poised to buy DVD publishing business 2entertain from beleaguered U.K. retail store Woolworths in a deal worth an estimated $150 million.

Worldwide already owns 60% of the business while Woolworths controls the remaining 40%.

On Tuesday, Woolworths suspended trading in its stocks as talks were held to save parts of the business.

In a statement, the BBC confirmed that the two parties were talking about a potential sale.

“BBC Worldwide can confirm that it is in discussion with Woolworths Group plc about our joint venture 2entertain, which is a healthy, profitable business,” it said. 2entertain’s portfolio of BBC fare includes DVDs for such titles as “Doctor Who,” “Blue Planet” and “Cranford.”

2entertain performed strongly for Worldwide, according to its last set of annual results, with DVD sales, including coin from 2entertain, up 29%.

Before a sale is agreed, the move will have to be greenlit by the BBC Trust, which regulates the corporation’s commercial activities.

The Trust is under pressure from private companies to rein in the scope of Worldwide’s businesses and last week rejected a plan for local U.K. video-driven news websites.

However, commentators would be surprised if the Trust blocked the bid for the Woolworths’ stake in 2entertain.

Courtesy of Steve Clarke

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