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Hercule Poirot takes stock

Helen Slingsby
Friday September 7, 2001
The Guardian

Noddy and Big Ears and Hercule Poirot are finally to have their own listed company, Chorion, the nightclubs and intellectual property firm confirmed yesterday.

The company which owns the Tiger Tiger chain of bars and has the rights to Agatha Christie's crime-writing, said it was planning a demerger of the two divisions in the first half of 2002. Analysts reckon March 2002 is the likely date.

"We have passed certain milestones in terms of installing management team and growing the businesses," said Chorion chairman John Conlan. "The group's criteria for demerging the business into two separate quoted entities are expected to be fully met by the end of 2001."

Analysts welcomed the decision, particularly as Chorion also revealed it now has full control over the rights to Noddy, having paid BBC Worldwide £6m for the privilege.

Shares in the company jumped 1.25p to 29.75p, capitalising Chorion at £154m. Demerged, analysts believe the IP division could be worth £130m, or 41p a share, against its £60m value and more than the bars and nightclubs arm, valued at £113m.

"We have thought for some time that the market cap of Chorion was wrong . These are two quality businesses," said Mr Conlon.

Alongside the Noddy deal, Mr Conlan has also secured the rights to 85% of the George Simenon literary business for £6m which will bring Inspector Maigret into the crime-writers stable.

The company was reporting pre-tax profits up to £3.6m from £2.8m for the six months to June 30 on sales of £20.8m up 62%.

While profits before amortisation at the nightclubs division more than doubled to £3.4m, profits in the intellectual property division were limited by investment, to £1.5m, £100,000 short on last time.

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