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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Mr Men joins Noddy and Big Ears
Mr Bounce. Pic from the Mr Men website
Mr Bounce is said to be thrilled by the deal
The popular children's characters Mr Men and Little Miss have been bought by media group Chorion.

The group, which already owns Enid Blyton's Noddy, has paid 28m ($49m) to buy all rights to the much-loved pre-school cartoon men and women.

It has bought them from previous owners the Hargreaves Organisation, which takes its name from their creator Roger Hargreaves, and Mr Films.

Chorion also announced it intends to raise 16.5m through a share placing.

The proceeds of the placing is to be used to fund the production of a second Enid Blyton character and the development of other works, such as The Famous Five and Amelia Jane.

Tickling away

Chorion said trading remained strong in 2004 so far.

Author Roger Hargreaves created 46 Mr Men and 33 Little Miss characters.

His first book in the series - Mr Tickle - was published in 1971.

Mr Men and Little Miss having fun with their friends
We think the great thing about this particular brand is that there is a huge opportunity to bring it back for a new audience
Nicholas James
Chorion chief executive

The books have gone on to be translated into more than 15 languages and there have been 175 episodes of the TV series, which was originally narrated by Arthur Lowe of Dad's Army fame.

The principal revenue streams of the Mr Men characters are derived from publishing and merchandise.

Mr Hargreaves died in 1988 aged 53.

Since then the Hargreaves Organisation has been owned and run by his family, including son Adam and daughter Amelia.

New beginning

They retained the rights to the publishing and merchandising business, but Mr Hargreaves had earlier sold the TV and film rights to Mr Films, whose owners are based both in the UK and continental Europe.

Chorion's chief executive Nicholas James said the acquisitions of both businesses would enable it to bring the brand to a new generation of children.

It is planning to release a new TV series in the autumn of 2006 and to produce a new range of merchandise with educational value for younger children.

"We think the great thing about this particular brand is that there is a huge opportunity to bring it back for a new audience," Mr James said.

Adam Hargreaves, who continued to write the Mr Men books after the death of his father, is to join Chorion as a part-time creative consultant.

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