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iTouch acquires Worldpop

LONDON - Worldpop, the interactive youth marketing company and pop website, has been acquired by mobile phone services company iTouch for an undisclosed sum.

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iTouch will use Worldpop to help market its range of youth products, which include ringtones, picture messaging, games and chat. It will also take advantage of the wide range of relationships Worldpop built up with key music content providers and media channel partners.



Worldpop, founded by former BBC Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell, collapsed last month and was put into administration after it was unable to pay its debts. Its chairman Charles Levison has announced his resignation as iTouch takes over.


The company had been unable to raise more money, having spent its way through £13m since it was launched in 1999. The company famously paid £5m to become the first sponsor of the Top 40 music charts.



According to Powell, who retains an interest in the company: "I'm delighted for the team at Worldpop and hope that the combination of iTouch and Worldpop will be a huge hit."



Although Worldpop's main business is now mobile youth marketing, it still has a limited online presence, which was mostly scaled back when it repositioned itself from a teenage music portal to a youth marketing company.



More important than the site's online activity are the 130,000 qualified names on its database, with 4,000 being added each month. Earlier this year, Worldpop raised a further £5m in its second round of funding and bought direct marketing company Trinity Street Direct. The acquisition was designed to strengthen Worldpop's growing marketing and audience research business.



According to the administrators, Worldpop had revenues of £2.1m in 2000 and it was on track to become cash positive and profitable during early 2002. Its clients include many blue-chip brands such as Budweiser, Procter & Gamble, Kodak and Sony and all the major UK record companies.



Wayne Pitout, co-founder and joint managing director of iTouch, said: "The music industry and the youth market are prime growth drivers of the mobile business. We see Worldpop as an important development in this strategy, giving us a well-known brand and an excellent database which we can leverage rapidly."



iTouch was founded as a mobile business in South Africa in 1995. It now operates in nine countries and is headquartered in London, where it listed on the London Stock Exchange in July 2000. As of September 30 2001, it had net cash reserves of £41.1m.



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