In May 2010, parent company Navarre announced they were investigating the sale of FUNimation. Navarre stated that they were, “concentrating all efforts on our distribution and software publishing businesses where we have significant expertise and considerable systems and physical assets that can be leveraged”; with FUNimation in the content creation (which includes licensing, etc.) business, it simply did not line up with where their parent company was heading.
As of November 2010, Navarre had still not come to any agreements with interested parties, though they had received several offers, some of which had even come back with additional re-bids. It was noted at the time that a decision regarding the sale of FUNimation was expected by the end of the calendar year, but nothing was announced in the following months until February, when it was stated that if a buyer was not found within the next quarter, they may consider not selling FUNimation at all.
This afternoon, Navarre announced that FUNimation has finally been sold for $24 million in cash. The catch? They have been sold to a private investor group, and a minority stakeholder in the new group / transaction is none other than Gen Fukunaga himself, Chief Executive Officer (and original co-founder) of FUNimation.
It is not uncommon for growing businesses to buy themselves back out after being acquired. One tidbit to toss out there, however, is that Navarre entered into an “Amended and Restated Executive Employment Agreement” with Fukunaga (standard practice for a situation like this), whereby the FUNimation CEO was entitled to “a transaction success fee in an amount equal to the greater of (i) $250,000, and (ii) 5% of certain transaction proceeds”. The ending of the phrasing there is a bit too vague for us to speculate on, but suffice it to say, there was at least a quarter of a million dollars in terms of a bonus just for not getting in the way of selling the company… to himself (well, partially, anyway).
Interestingly, and what we could probably see coming a mile away, is that Navarre will continue to act as distributor for FUNimation and their products — that is exactly what Navarre does; they do it well, they have been making huge advances in just how well they do it, and if they are on such good terms with FUNimation, why not continue to benefit from and off of each other for the foreseeable future?
The big question for our audience is (of course): what does this mean for the Dragon Ball franchise? Well, FUNimation recently renegotiated the license for another five years, presumably taking them from 2010-2015, so it probably does not mean much in the short term. While a couple products have been delayed in the past couple months (Dragon Box five, Kai volume five), those delays could easily be attributed to general production woes and (likely) the Kenji Yamamoto music scandal.
In all likelihood, things will charge forward as-is for FUNimation and our favorite series.