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Last Updated: Monday, 15 March, 2004, 10:48 GMT
Noddy motors into Chinese market
Noddy books have been translated into 40 languages
Children's character Noddy is about to make friends with China's 95 million under-five year olds.

Noddy and his Toy Town chums are being introduced to the Chinese market after owner Chorion awarded the rights to a Beijing-based publisher.

The deal will mean a rollout of Noddy books, toys, videos and DVDs, and educational and language products.

Nicholas James, Chorion boss, said: "We are confident children in China will warmly welcome Noddy."

He added: "In particular we are delighted that the character is being used to teach children basic learning and language skills."

Chorion has awarded the rights to Beijing- based Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP).

'Educational value'

FLTRP will now publish Learn English with Noddy and Noddy Early Learning in China.

Talks are also being held with FLTRP over the broadcasting of the computer-generated animated TV series Make Way for Noddy in China.

Details of the deal have come days after Chorion revealed a six-fold leap in annual profits to 3.1m, mainly through the expansion of the Noddy brand worldwide.

Rights to educational products have already been sold in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

The London-based group has not put a value on the China deal, but it could be worth more than 500,000 across four years.

Mr James said: "Enid Blyton herself was a pre-school teacher and created Noddy in order to make the learning experience more fun for children, thereby increasing the character's educational value."

Enid Blyton published her first Noddy book, Noddy Goes to Toyland, in 1949. Noddy books have been translated into 40 languages and sold more than 200 million copies around the world.

Offers for Noddy

Chorion is an owner and developer of intellectual property, with the rights to key properties such as Noddy, The Famous Five, Miss Marple, Poirot and Maigret.

In February it rejected a takeover proposal by rival Entertainment Rights (ER), home to TV puppet Basil Brush.

It said ER's 43.5m ($79.3m) offer was "not in the best interests" of its shareholders. ER had proposed offering a 50-50 mix of cash and shares, worth 252p per Chorion share.

Chorion rejected a previous unsolicited approach from ER, which it said undervalued the business, in December.

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