OXFORD, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op has completed the purchase of the .coop domain name registrar and registry operator businesses from Poptel Ltd.
The new businesses have been acquired to safeguard the long-term future of the domain name for the international Co-operative Movement. They are also a strategic acquisition by OSG to add to the society's portfolio of innovative services to other co-ops.
OSG Chief Executive Bob Burlton said the society would be working with its international partners to develop new ideas for .coop, which is currently the largest sponsored domain on the worldwide web with over 8,000 names registered.
"We believe .coop has great but unfulfilled potential for the global co-op community," said Mr Burlton. "It's our goal to realise this potential by showing co-ops trading on their co-operative difference how .coop can add real value to their business. And, of course, we are returning these businesses to the Co-op fold."
The deal marks an important step in the re-mutualisation of businesses formerly run by the workers' co-operative Poptel, and comes two years after the Movement's on-line service provider was taken over by private investors following delays in the launch of the .coop top level internet domain.
Poptel founder Shaun Fensom ? now Head of Internet Services at the Phone Co-op ? told the News: "OSG's purchase of the flagship .coop registry follows the formation of the Poptel Technology web design co-operative in 2002 and the transfer of Poptel's retail ISP business to the Phone Co-op in 2003."
Community Broadband Network director Malcolm Corbett, who co-invented .coop when he was Corporate Affairs Director at Poptel in 2000, commented: "This brings a painful chapter to a close and I wish OSG every success in taking .coop forward."
The new registrar business will be headed by Neil Homer, who oversees OSG's new business ventures.
Said Mr Homer: "We have some new ideas for driving greater value into the .coop domain name in 2005. We are looking forward to working with our reseller partners across the world to revitalise the product range and increase the awareness among co-ops of its potential value to their businesses.
"The .coop name registrations and services bought from Poptel will not be impacted by the transfer and that access to registrants' .coop accounts will continue from www.domains.coop.
"Our customers can be assured of receiving excellent standards of service when registering names or when contacting us with their inquiries."
OSG's announcement has been welcomed by Charles Snyder, Chairman of the Board of DotCoop and President and Chief Executive of the America-based National Co-operative Bank.
He said: "Having a co-op with the technical and organisational expertise of OSG will provide a renewed basis for continued improvements in the value of .coop to our co-op registrants and their registrars."
DotCoop President and CEO Paul Hazen added: "OSG Co-op has been a .coop supporter from the beginning and we are very excited about the expertise and understanding of co-ops that they bring to the registry operator business.
"They will be an excellent partner in developing the full value of .coop for the co-operative community."