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Bob fixes Barney deal
February 9, 2001: 5:48 a.m. ET

HIT, parent of Bob the Builder, grabs purple dinosaur's owner Lyrick for $275M
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LONDON (CNN) - Bob the Builder asked 'Can we buy it?' and on Friday, to the tune of a $275 million buyout offer, Barney the Dinosaur responded 'I love you'.

UK-based HIT Entertainment, parent of animated artisan Bob, will become one of the world's biggest entertainers of toddlers through a deal to buy Texas-based Lyrick, which is behind purple dinosaur character Barney.

Barney will have some counting to do: privately held Lyrick is set to receive $165 million in new HIT shares and $110 million in cash -- funded in part by an HIT share placement and bank borrowings. graphic

"The board recognises that Barney is a US icon, an integral part of almost every American pre-schooler's life with enormous international appeal," Peter Orton, HIT chief executive, said in a statement. "This acquisition is the perfect union between two leaders in the pre-school field."

Over the last 9 years, Barney has become one of the most visible characters for pre-school kids in the United States, and more than 55 million videos and 68 million books featuring the dinosaur have been sold.

Bob the Builder and his handy work yard friends such as bulldozer Muck and steamroller Roley -- saw their popularity reach a new peak last year, after his record "Can We Fix It" won the honour of best-selling single in Britain in 2000.

Friday's deal hands HIT an important distribution network in the United States, although Bob was already introduced to U.S. children last month when his show began airing on children's network Nickelodeon.

Bob has been carrying the load at HIT he's responsible for 60 percent of the company's revenues.

The buyout puts to rest speculation that HIT would buy the The Jim Henson Co. from Germany's EM.TV after HIT's banker, UBS Warburg said last week a deal was close without specifying the target. EM.TV is struggling to reorganise its finances.

Shares in HIT were suspended in London last week at 440 pence ahead of the deal. They are expected to start trading again later on Monday. graphic