2waytraffic wants to be 'Millionaire'

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LONDON -- Dutch interactive format venture 2waytraffic has acquired Complete Communications International, the company behind hit gameshow "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" in a deal valued at €106 million ($210 million) and has resumed trading on London's secondary investment market, the company announced Friday.

2waytraffic had been rumored to be close to a deal for Complete Communications, parent company of "Millionaire" producer Celador International, since July, when its shares were temporarily suspended from the Alternative Investment Market. Knight Whitehill Prods. and the River Studio, which own the business assets and rights to the show, also are included in the deal.

In a statement, the company said that "Millionaire" remains a global hit, despite failing to hit the ratings heights first reached when it launched in the late '90s on such networks as ITV and ABC. The show has since aired in more than 100 countries.

"This is a transformational deal that will see us acquire 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?,' one of the most popular and sustainable prime time game shows in history," said 2waytraffic chairman Chris Pye, a former Sony Pictures International Television and Granada International format executive.

2waytraffic, which specializes in interactive programming for TV, mobile phones and digital platforms, said the deal will be primarily paid by a €60 million loan ($119 million) and a €38 million ($75 million) placing of its shares.

The deal also will give the Dutch outfit rights to about 30 other Celador formats including health transformation show "You Are What You Eat," quiz show "Brainiest" and his and hers romance show "Mr. & Mrs."

"Millionaire" creator Paul Smith said he is optimistic about the show's future and selected 2waytraffic because of its long-term plans for the franchise.

"When we were seeking a buyer for 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' and Celador International, our considerations were not purely financial. 'Millionaire' is very much our baby, so it was a matter of who would best look after it," he added.

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