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Disney p-p-picks up Club Penguin

Mickey Mouse social network bags $700m

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Disney has become the latest global media conglomerate to stomp into the social networking fray, with the purchase of children's site Club Penguin in a deal which could run to $700m.

Club Penguin sits at the virtual world end of the social networking spectrum, with 700,000 paying subscribers, mostly in North America, pretending to be penguins in a 3D cartoon environment.

It was launched in 2005 by founders Lane Merrifield, Dave Krysko, and Lance Priebe, who are each set to bag at least $115m according to the Financial Times. The initial $350m payment will be followed up by a further $350m by the end of 2009 if targets are met.

Disney chief executive Bob Iger hailed his own visionary strategy in moving into social networking: "We've believed for a while that the internet is a primary medium for kids, so this is just perfect. It's creative, innovative, and uses technology well."

Chocolate biscuit fanciers will note that for many years Jacobs' Club and United Biscuits' Penguin have battled for lunchbox supremacy among Britain's youth. The deal is unconnected to this eternal struggle. ®

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