Chorion (company)

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Chorion
Former type Private ownership,
Limited liability company
Industry Media, Television Production & Distribution
Successors Silvergate Media
Founded 4 April 1998
Defunct March 2012
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
New York City, United States
Sydney, Australia
Products Children's Animation, Production Films Animation
Owners 3i Group Plc
Employees 150+
Subsidiaries Silver Lining Productions
Website [1]

Chorion Limited was a major international media production company with offices in London, New York and Sydney. The company produced TV shows and feature films, and was best known for the heritage properties included in its portfolio. These included children's characters such as Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, The Mr. Men, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olivia,[1] and Gaspard and Lisa. The company also owned the rights to the Agatha Christie Estate (including the Miss Marple and Poirot characters), Raymond Chandler,[2] and Georges Simenon.

The company existed initially as a diversified entertainment company, with a portfolio of Intellectual Property rights, live entertainment venues and commercial real estate. From 2002 onwards, the business was refocused towards heritage IP Rights management and media production. Following a management buyout in 2006, Chorion delivered one new children's TV show every year and launched an associated merchandise range at retail.

History[edit]

1998–2002: Beginnings[edit]

Chorion was created in April 1998, as a new name for the London-based entertainment and retail company, Trocadero PLC. The formation of the new company occurred at the same time as the acquisition of three London entertainment venues from Luminar PLC.[3] The newly formed company owned a diverse range of assets in the entertainment industry, including the retail complex at the London Trocadero, the rights to the Enid Blyton literary estate, and several other entertainment venues, bars and nightclubs in the UK.

In June 1998, Chorion acquired the rights to the Agatha Christie literary estate,[4] with a vision of reviving the crime brand through new TV production and exporting the property to the United States. This acquisition marked the first step towards becoming the media production company it is today. It nonetheless remained a company with a diverse portfolio, as evidenced by the founding of the Tiger Tiger nightclub on London's Haymarket in late 1998. The Tiger Tiger format was expanded to other cities during 1999[5]

Despite the success of these nightclubs, it became increasingly clear that Chorion's business was made up of two very different divisions: a media production and rights ownership division, and an entertainment venue division. Analysts frequently cautioned that the company would not unlock its full value until these two businesses were demerged.[6][7] By February 2000, Chorion sold its ownership of the loss-making Trocadero Centre back to its previous owner, Burford Holdings. Later that year, in May 2000, the management announced during an Annual General Meeting their intention to demerge the nightclub and venue business from the media business.[8] After several delays,[9] this process was completed in May 2002 with the venue business spun off into a new company, Urbium PLC[10]

2002–2006: Growth[edit]

By 2002, with the company focused solely on media production, Chorion began a period of expansion driven by the acquisition of new literary properties and developing new TV and film to unlock their value. The first steps in this new direction included a series of management changes which placed experienced executives from the world of television at the helm of the company.[11] On 4 December 2002, Chief Executive Nick Tamblyn announced his immediate resignation.[12] Waheed Alli was initially appointed as Non-Executive Deputy Chairman. Just a few months later, in April 2003, he stepped up to the position of Chairman.[13] Alli remains Chairman to this day, although he now also holds the position of CEO.

During this period, Chorion produced several new TV productions. In May 2002, the UK's Channel Five announced that it had bought 100 episodes of a new CGI-animated TV series based on Enid Blyton's Noddy,[14] with the show "Make Way For Noddy" airing in September of that year.[15] In November 2002, the company announced a four-year deal with major UK television network ITV to produce a few feature-length TV dramas based on the Agatha Christie novels.[16] These began to broadcast on-air at the end of 2003.[17] During this period, development and production also began on an animated cartoon series based on The Famous Five[18] in collaboration with Disney Channel in France.[19] The range of newly developed TV Shows began to expand internationally, with Noddy becoming the most recognised children's character in France in 2003,[20] sold to Chinese publishers in 2004,[21] and airing in the United States on PBS in 2005.[22]

As well as the commission and launch of several new TV productions, the period immediately following Waheed Alli's elevation to the Chairmanship was marked by a series of high-profile acquisitions of new properties. In April 2004, after several months of negotiations,[23] Chorion acquired the distribution rights to the Roger Hargreaves Mr. Men series for £28 million.[24] This acquisition was followed up in May 2005 with total ownership of the Hargreaves estate and the rights to produce new TV series.

In July 2005, Chorion made a major step towards becoming an international business when it bought US-based Silver Lining Productions.[25] Along with an office in New York City,[26] this acquisition gave Chorion ownership of the media and merchandise rights to The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Olivia by Ian Falconer, and Max and Ruby by Rosemary Wells.

2006–2011: Take-Private and International Expansion[edit]

In early 2006, Alli led a Management Buyout of the company[27] backed by Private Equity Firm 3i Group Plc.[28] In May 2006, this process was completed when Chorion delisted from the AIM exchange in to become a private limited company.[29][30]

Peter Rabbit, (1901). Chorion is developing a TV series based on the book, in collaboration with Nickelodeon in the US

With Waheed Alli now serving as Chief Executive and Executive Chairman, Chorion pursued a strategy of developing and launching one new Children's property every year.[31] This development strategy included the launch of a new series of Noddy in 2007, an animated version of the Mr. Men in 2008, the US launch of Olivia in 2009, and the UK launch of The Octonauts in 2010. Chorion currently plans to launch a new production of Gaspard and Lisa in 2011 and a new CGI-animated version of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit in 2012. This production is a joint venture with US broadcaster Nickelodeon and British Publisher Frederick Warne, part of the Penguin Group.

The launch of The Octonauts represented a big hit for the company, achieving on-air ratings for the show as number one in the key demographic of Boys aged 4 to 6.[32] Chorion announced in 2010 that they had signed international toy-makers Fisher Price as the Master Toy Partner for the brand, with a full toy line launching in the UK in August 2011.[33]

The development of a new series of Peter Rabbit was made possible by Chorion's acquisition in November 2007 of Copyrights Group, a competing intellectual property management company which owned the rights to the Beatrix Potter series. The company also owned the rights to Paddington Bear, Spot the Dog by Eric Hill, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, and The Horrible Histories book series.

2011: Resignation of Waheed Alli and William Astor[edit]

On 24 August 2011, Chairman and CEO Waheed Alli along with Deputy Chairman William Astor announced to the company that they would be resigning their positions[34] following the failure of the company's lenders to reach an agreement to restructure Chorion's debt burdens.[35] This announcement came along with reports that Waheed Alli was planning to buy Chorion back from Private Equity companies, should it become available for sale.

There was also speculation, originating in an article in the Sunday Times, that Chorion would be placed under administration, managed by Deloittes PLC[36] The article did not provided any sources for the story.

On December 2011, Chorion hand over Mr Men and Little Miss with over 80 characters and an international licensing, television and publishing business to Japan's Sanrio via mergers and acquisitions.[37]

2012: Sale of Assets[edit]

In February 2012, Chorion started putting their properties up for sale. They have sold the Agatha Christie estate to Acorn Media Group,[38] the Noddy and Olivia properties to DreamWorks Classics (formerly Classic Media, now a subsidiary of DreamWorks Animation),[39][40] Max and Ruby back to Nelvana,[41] and the Dennis Wheatley, Margery Allingham, Nicolas Freeling and Edmund Crispin estates to The Rights House and PFD.[42] The estate of Enid Blyton, including The Famous Five series but excluding Noddy was sold to Hachette UK in March 2012.[43]

List of Productions[edit]

Children's[edit]

Films[edit]

  • Fox Hound 2
  • Care Bears: The Giving Festival
  • Cinnamoroll: the Movie

Literary estates[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ AWN (17 April 2007). "Nickelodeon & Chorion To Bring Olivia Book Series to TV | AWN | Animation World Network". AWN. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Chris Tryhorn, City correspondent (10 February 2005). "Chorion buys Chandler rights | Media | MediaGuardian". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Urbium PLC – page 2 | International Directory of Company Histories". Findarticles.com. 2004. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "de beste bron van informatie over biographicon. Deze website is te koop!". biographicon.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Chorion | Business". The Guardian (UK). 8 September 1999. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Andrew Clark (5 January 2001). "At this price? Chorion | Business". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Andrew Clark (19 October 2000). "At this price? Chorion | Business". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Article: Chorion plans demerger to improve performance.(Brief Article) | AccessMyLibrary – Promoting library advocacy". AccessMyLibrary. 1 June 2000. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Chorion demerger delayed while hunt is on for book deals – Business News, Business". The Independent (UK). 20 March 2001. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Urbium PLC: Information from". Answers.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Owen Gibson (4 December 2002). "Lord Alli teams up with Noddy | Media | MediaGuardian". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Technology Weekly News – Search Marketing, Social Media, Email and Internet Issues". Technology Weekly. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Finance (14 December 2003). "Hands off Noddy!". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "TV AND RADIO | Noddy to make TV return". BBC News. 14 May 2002. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Five in deal with Chorion over Blyton rights – Business News, Business". The Independent (UK). 17 September 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Owen Gibson (4 December 2002). "Lord Alli teams up with Noddy | Media | MediaGuardian". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Chorion tracks down TV sleuth deals | News". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Stephen Brook (26 May 2005). "Famous Five make TV comeback | Media | MediaGuardian". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Back for more jolly japes: the return of the Famous Five – Media, News". The Independent (UK). 5 December 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  20. ^ Philippe Naughton 17 October 2011 10:46 am (30 September 2011). "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". London: Business.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Business | Noddy motors into Chinese market". BBC News. 15 March 2004. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Philippe Naughton 17 October 2011 10:46 am (30 September 2011). "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". London: Business.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "Chorion wants to be Mr Quick | Business". The Guardian (UK). 16 December 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "Mr Men join Chorion in £28m deal | News". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Business | Noddy embarks on global adventure". BBC News. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  26. ^ Cosima Marriner (26 July 2005). "Chorion buys caterpillar for US drive | Business". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  27. ^ "Lord Waheed Alli". X Media Lab. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  28. ^ Chris Tryhorn (23 February 2006). "Chorion agrees £111m buyout | Business | MediaGuardian". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "Chorion | Company Profile by". Licensing.biz. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Chorion Limited: Private Company Information – BusinessWeek". Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  31. ^ "CHORION: International Brand Strategy Drives 35% Revenue Growth, Profits Up 63%". Business Wire. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  32. ^ "Book Trade Announcements – Simon & Schuster Releases Full-Colour Ebooks Across Biggest Picture Book Brands". booktrade.info. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  33. ^ Licensing (27 January 2010). "Chorion Licenses Octonauts to Fisher-Price". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  34. ^ Mark Sweney (25 August 2011). "Lord Alli to quit Mr Men owner Chorion | Media | guardian.co.uk". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  35. ^ Edgecliffe, Andrew (25 August 2011). "Astor and Alli to quit Mr Men manager". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  36. ^ Kuo, Patricia (28 August 2011). "Chorion May Be Forced Into Administration, Sunday Times Reports". Bloomberg. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  37. ^ Mark Sweney (6 December 2011). "Mr Men bought by Hello Kitty owner". The Guardian (UK). 
  38. ^ Sweney, Mark (29 February 2012). "Acorn Media buys stake in Agatha Christie estate". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  39. ^ Kemp, Stuart (7 March 2012). "U.S. Group Classic Media Grabs Rights to Iconic British Creation Noddy From Chorion". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  40. ^ Rusak, Gary (8 March 2012). "Classic Media acquires Noddy". Kidscreen. 
  41. ^ http://kidscreen.com/2012/03/30/nelvana-acquires-max-ruby/
  42. ^ Williams, Charlotte (15 March 2012). "Rights House and PFD snap up crime estates". The Bookseller. 
  43. ^ http://www.thebookseller.com/news/hachette-snaps-blyton-estate.html

External links[edit]