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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Firms fight for Monkey's business
ITV Digital's Monkey
Mother is proud of Monkey's success
ITV Digital's Monkey mascot is the subject of a custody battle between the advertising agency that created him and administrators for the failed broadcaster.

While administrators Deloitte & Touche have struggled to find buyers for the rest of the collapsed digital TV service, Monkey has emerged as one of its most valuable assets.

Advertising agency Mother says it may still be the legal owner of the woolly puppet, which starred alongside comedian Johnny Vegas in a series of adverts.

We do consider that Monkey is an asset but the situation is being looked into

Deloitte and Touche spokeswoman
Deloitte & Touche, however, say Monkey is an asset of the company.

Mother have called in lawyers to investigate their claim.

Andy Medd, a partner at Mother, said: "The situation certainly needs to be clarified. Monkey cannot be sold off to the highest bidder until it has been established who the legal owner actually is.

"We are discussing the matter with our lawyers and there will be discussions with the administrators."

Monkey magic

He said the agency was still owed a "substantial amount of money" by ITV Digital.

Emma Thoroughgood, spokeswoman for Deloitte & Touche, said: "We do consider that Monkey is an asset but the situation is being looked into."

Interest in the iconic ape has also come from other companies - with supermarket chain KwikSave and cider makers Diamond White seeking to hire his services for their own adverts.

Investment company Selestia has offered Monkey "10,000 a year, plus perks".

Monkey was one of the few success stories for ITV Digital, which went into administration in March owing 178.5m to the football league for rights to screen matches.

Deloitte & Touche have been unable to find a buyer for the company, and earlier this week its pay-TV services were taken off air.

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