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Following a few months of speculation and confirmed-interest in the company, Sony Pictures Television Networks has announced their intention to acquire a substantial majority-stake in FUNimation, the North American distributor of the Dragon Ball franchise’s anime adaptation.
SONY PICTURES TELEVISION NETWORKS TO ACQUIRE SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITY STAKE IN FUNIMATION
Culver City, Calif., July 31, 2017 – Sony Pictures Television Networks has reached an agreement to acquire a substantial majority stake in Japanese anime distributor Funimation Productions, Ltd., (“Funimation”), subject to regulatory approvals and certain other closing conditions, valuing the company at approximately $150 million. Gen Fukunaga, CEO of Funimation, will retain a minority stake in the business and remain CEO.
With a catalog that includes popular titles such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “One Piece”, “My Hero Academia” and “Attack on Titan”, Funimation licenses and distributes Japanese anime content in the U.S., and operates the subscription streaming service FunimationNOW, available via the PlayStation Store, iTunes Store, Google Play, Amazon Apps, Xbox Store and mobile devices. Additionally, the company sells merchandise and DVDs through its website, Funimation.com.
“Around the world, Sony’s networks have been major players in the anime space for nearly two decades, and in more recent years we have rapidly increased our networks’ over-the-top and digital offerings to consumers. With the acquisition of Funimation, the combined IP of ANIMAX, KIDS STATION and Funimation allows us to deliver the best anime to fans across all screens and platforms,” said Andy Kaplan, President, Worldwide Networks, Sony Pictures Television.
Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga added, “With Funimation’s long-established leadership position in anime and Sony’s direct access to the creative pipeline in Japan, it will be a great partnership to take Funimation to the next level.”
Outgoing Chairman of Funimation, John A Kuelbs, and lead investor, Doug Deason, said, “Funimation experienced tremendous growth and success since 2011. We believe Sony, Gen and his team are uniquely positioned to lead Funimation and its fans into an exciting and entertaining future.”
Sony Pictures Television Networks’ ANIMAX network is a multi-platform provider of Japanese anime content currently operating in 23 countries, including Japan.
Sony Pictures Television Networks operates established linear channel brands including AXN, Sony Channel, and ANIMAX, and digital brands including CRACKLE around the world, AXN Now in Europe and Asia, and Sony LIV in India.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Funimation along with Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP acting as exclusive legal advisor. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP acted as legal advisor to Sony Pictures Television Networks.
About Sony Pictures Television Networks
Sony Pictures Television Networks operates branded entertainment channels reaching nearly two billion subscribers around the world. Based in Culver City, Amsterdam, Budapest, London, Madrid, Miami, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, Munich, Singapore and Tokyo, Sony’s linear and digital networks offer high quality film and television content from Sony Pictures and third-parties, as well as original content commissioned globally and locally. Sony Pictures Television Networks is a division of Sony Pictures Television Inc., a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
Funimation is the #1 English-language anime content provider in North America, which licenses, adapts and distributes anime content from Japanese rights holders internationally. Its catalog includes over 10,000 hours of content with rights to over 450 brands and provides dubbed and subbed anime across multiple channels. FunimationNOW, the Company’s streaming platform, is the leading North American English-language OTT anime platform.
FUNimation issued their own statement on the company’s blog:
Founder Gen Fukunaga started Funimation with a vision and a mission to make anime as accessible as possible to fans across the world. In the 23 years since we began, we have been committed to creating anime experiences fans love: from bringing Dragon Ball to the U.S., to bringing the best anime to home video and theaters, to SimulDubs that bring episodes in English to fans within two weeks after they air in Japan, to the world’s largest dubbed streaming catalog on FunimationNow.
Today, we announced that Funimation has agreed to sell a substantial majority stake to Sony Pictures Television Networks (SPTN). SPTN is one of the preeminent names in entertainment, and shares our vision to deliver anime to fans globally across all screens and platforms.
FUNimation — founded in 1994 by Daniel Cocanougher, Gen Fukunaga and Cindy Fukunaga — began their production and localization of the Dragon Ball franchise in 1995 and has continuously renewed their license with Toei Animation and their various Japanese partners. In 2005, FUNimation was acquired by entertainment distributor and publisher Navarre (which itself was later acquired) in a $100+M deal. In 2011, the company was sold back to a private group of investors (including Gen Fukunaga himself) in a $24M deal.