Popstars' international rights holder potential takeover target

Star India may be pulling out all the stops to make sure that its glam-reality show [V] Popstars makes it big but the same can't be said for the show's international rights holder. Sportsworld, which holds the worldwide rights to Popstars is up for sale.

The media group has announced its decision to sell itself after the company's board decided that selling all or part of the business was the only way to stave off bankruptcy. Industry sources claim that the company has already received feelers from other sports marketing and media companies, as well as from venture capital groups eager to grab the group's sports and entertainment rights.

Apart from Popstars, Sportsworld has the rights to several big sponsorship contracts, including the Toyota formula one team, the England cricket team and perimeter advertising at Premier League grounds. Industry analysts say that the global recession, followed by the downturn in the sponsorship market has hit Sportsworld badly, as the company allegedly overpaid for many of its sports rights.

Sportsworld's troubles became known last month when the company announced that it was postponing its results and issued its second profit warning in as many weeks. The company's share price nosedived as a result, from a high of almost five pounds to just three pence. The company has said it expects to announce its interim results by the end of this month, by which time it hopes to be in a position to announce a buyer. The company's downturn has come as a jolt to many, particularly as it had a few months ago claimed that its 2001 results 'show an impressive 192 per cent growth in pre tax profits - in a climate of declining ad revenues'.

The company has regional offices in London, Sydney, Melbourne, San Diego, Toronto, Dubai, Auckland, Bangalore and Bangkok with 400 staff employed in 20 offices spread over five continents.

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