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Orton steps down as Hit's ceo

ANNECY NEWS – Hit Entertainment’s Peter Orton, company founder and its largest shareholder, is handing over the reins of the UK children’s TV group.

Orton is stepping down as chief executive in favour of Rob Lawes, currently the ceo of Hit's recent acquisition, Lyrick Studios. Orton will remain with the company as executive chairman and said he had no intention of selling his 9% stake, valued at £37.5m ($51.8m).

The move comes in the wake of Hit’s recent £185m ($255m) take-over of Texas-based Lyrick Studios, the owners of Barney the Dinosaur, and as the Hit phenomenon Bob the Builder takes the US by storm.

The first two Bob the Builder videos to be released Stateside have already sold more than 80k copies since their launch on May 22, compared to 12k in the UK during an equivalent time period.

As part of the boardroom shuffle, Steve Ruffini, who joined Hit’s management team from Lyrick, has been appointed the group’s new finance director. He takes over the post from Shawn Taylor who, alongside president of Hit Entertainment US Dorian Langdon, has quit the board.

The UK company, which is currently valued at over $600m, saw its share price rise yesterday by 30pence (42cents) to £3.35 ($4.63).

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