Worldirish shareholders to discuss options following merger with rival Irishcentral
Deal will combine diaspora-focused websites
John McColgan launching WorldIrish.com during the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle in 2011
Shareholders in Riverdance promoter John McColgan’s social media venture, including Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond, are to “discuss their options” following its takeover by a bigger rival.
World Irish, which focuses on the diaspora, is to merge with competitor, Irish Central, run by New York-based publisher Niall O’Dowd, in an agreement announced yesterday. The merger will go ahead on September 15th and a spokesman confirmed that it has the backing of World Irish shareholders, including Mr O’Brien, Mr Desmond, Chris Horn of Iona and Terry Clune of Taxback, who put up €3 million to fund the site.
However, he said shareholders will discuss the options available to them at a meeting over the next few weeks. It is understood that those options could include taking some form of interest in the merged entity or the payment of some form of dividend.
Mr McColgan said in late 2012 that World Irish intended to raise further funds midway through this year but those plans were put on hold and, instead, the two businesses embarked on a series of talks that led to the merger.
According to a statement issued yesterday, when the merger comes into effect in two weeks the site will have more than two million unique monthly visitors “making it by far the biggest Irish diaspora website”.
Mr McColgan will be a director of the merged business and an advertising adviser. He said the deal was a “logical development” for his company.
He launched World Irish in October 2011 with the aim of signing up 100,000 subscribers at the end of its first year of operation. It was also reported that the company intended to raise up to €10 million from investors in various tranches.
However, in January, its founder said the business had around 50,000 subscribers, and conceded that this was half the number it had hoped for at its launch.
By the time that World Irish was launched, Irish Central had 700,000 unique visits a month to its website.
Mr O’Dowd publishes the Irish Voice newspaper and Irish America magazine, and recently sold stakes in these businesses to the British-based Irish Post. Commenting on the deal yesterday, he said there was “enormous potential to create a super site for the 70 million Irish worldwide in US, Britain, Canada, Asia and Ireland”.