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21 June 2016

Charles Russell Speechlys advises key stakeholders in Paddington Bear sale

Studiocanal has entered into an agreement to acquire Paddington and Company Limited, The Copyrights Group Limited, Harvey Unna & Stephen Durbridge (1975) Limited and Marketreach Licensing Services Limited which collectively own the rights, apart from the publishing rights, in Michael Bond’s classic children’s character, Paddington Bear. In addition to Paddington Bear, The Copyrights Group Limited also acts as merchandising agent for various other famous literary properties.

Studiocanal produced the Paddington movie which was the most successful family film release of all time outside of the Hollywood Studios, with a gross box office in excess of $260m, and Studiocanal’s most successful film to date.

By these acquisitions, Studiocanal takes full ownership of the Paddington brand worldwide, including television, merchandising, live entertainment, video games and theme parks, allowing it to capitalise on the growing global success of the brand.

Created by Michael Bond CBE and first published in 1958, Paddington Bear is one of the most famous and best-loved children’s book characters with countless fans all over the world.  Over 35 million books have been sold worldwide in more than 40 languages as well as over 25 million Paddington toys.  According to recognised publication Licensing Biz’s 2015 Power List of most influential brands, Paddington is the 4th most valuable global character brand.

Prior to the sale, the rights to Paddington were controlled and managed by a group of stakeholders including Karen Jankel, the daughter of Michael Bond, and her family, through Paddington and Company Limited, Chairman and founder of The Copyrights Group Limited, Nicholas Durbridge and Stephen Durbridge, founding partner of media and literary agent, The Agency.

Commenting on the transaction, Martin Wright, a corporate partner from Charles Russell Speechlys said “Our firm has worked with the owners of Paddington & Company and Copyrights for many years. We were delighted to be asked to advise the different stakeholders in Paddington on the transaction, which involves both a complex corporate transaction but also, for the sellers, a transition of the custodianship of a character that has been a part of most of their working lives.  We were very pleased to accompany the sellers at each stage from the point of a decision in principle to seek a sale through its negotiation up to its ultimate completion.”

Karen Jankel, owner and Managing Director of Paddington and Company, said “Due to the nature of our business, this was about far more than selling a group of companies. Paddington is a member of our family and so, not only did we need a firm who we could entrust with the necessary legal work that goes with a sale of this nature, it also required a great deal of sensitivity. We could not have asked for a better team of people who, without exception, were an absolute pleasure to work with throughout the entire process.

The Charles Russell Speechlys core team comprised Corporate Partner, Martin Wright, Corporate Senior Associate, Sarah Wigington, Corporate Associate, Nathan Lightman, Tax Associate, Helen Coward and Commercial Associates, Jaclyn Wilkins and Caroline Young.

For more information, please contact Martin Wright, Partner on +44 (0)20 7427 1039