Omnicom, WPP frontrunners in race to buy into Sportsworld

Global sports-related marketing major Sportsworld Media Group, the company that owns the worldwide rights to ITV's Popstars, is currently the target of a buy-out by a number of media majors.

Sources indicate that WPP Group and Omnicom, both among the world's largest communications groups, are the two most likely candidates which may acquire a stake in Sportsworld.

If Omnicom does acquire a stake in Sportsworld there will be no lack of synergy. Sportsworld CEO Geoff Brown has been quoted in an earlier interview as saying his strategy was really to create an Omnicom-style vehicle and be a consolidator within the industry. And John Bernbach, non-executive chairman of Sportsworld, is a founding director of Omnicom.

Sportsworld's problems arose after it announced at the end of January that full-year profits for the year to 30 June were likely to be below market expectations at between 9 million and 10 million.

Even though the company said the second half should be lifted by renewed sponsorship activity and a range of newspaper linked promotions connected to football's World Cup and the Winter Olympics, to name just two major sports events, this could not prevent a run on the company's share price which led to a major fall in its share value.

According to a company source, media reports regarding the state of the company and its finances have been overly exaggerated. The actual situation is that the company is still making operating profits and its financials are sound, the source asserts.

In India the company is a very new entrant (just six months old) but has already made a mark with two gameshow formats it licensed and that have taken off in a big way. Super Selector on ESPN Star Sports has proved a winner for the channel while Star India's Channel [V] has given its full to make sure that [V] Popstars is a success.

On the cricket front, Sportsworld has won the rights to market in India the in stadia hoardings for the upcoming tour to the West Indies by the Indian cricket team. According to the source, all the inventory available has already been sold.

He further stated that Sportsworld was in advanced negotiations with all the big broadcasters to licence their shows and some major announcements on that front could be expected soon.

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