Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has announced on Monday (Tuesday, Philippine time) that the television company will acquire a substantial majority stake in North American anime company Funimation.
The deal will be subject to regulatory approvals and other recommendations by the shareholders, but Funimation has been valued for USD150 million (about PHP7.6 billion).
Business news website Bloomberg reported last May that SPT considered bidding for the anime company. Universal, the film division of telecommunications conglomerate Comcast, weighed bidding but decided not to push through.
Entertainment industry website Variety reported that SPT will pay USD143 million (about PHP7.2 billion) for a 95% ownership of the anime company.
Gen Fukunaga, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Funimation, will retain a minority stake in the company and will remain as the CEO.
“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 of Worldwide Networks of Sony Pictures Television.
SPT handles several television properties around the world, including AXN and ANIMAX in Asia, Sony GEM in Southeast Asia, and Kids Station in Japan, which recently became a part of a joint venture with Mitsui & Co last February.
The television company also handles digital properties, including Crackle in the United States and Sony LIV in India.
“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,” Fukunaga said in a statement.
Funimation is one of the largest licensor and distributor of foreign content in North America, which was founded by Gen Fukunaga and wife Cindy in May 1994. The company’s main competitors are Viz Media, Sentai Filmworks and Aniplex of America.
The North American company is known for distributing content, such as Dragon Ball, Fullmetal Alchemist, Detective Conan, and Attack on Titan.
Last year, the company revamped its streaming service and launched FunimationNow, which then expanded to United Kingdom & Ireland, and Australia & New Zealand this year.
The company had entered in a landmark partnership with streaming service Crunchyroll in September last year, where the two services would be able to cross-stream from each of their platforms.
As a result of the partnership, Crunchyroll offers subtitled content, while FunimationNow became the home of English-dubbed content.
Japanese anime shows from both services can also be found on VRV, which is owned by Crunchyroll’s parent company Ellation.
Anime Pilipinas is trying to reach Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Asia, the parent company of AXN Asia, ANIMAX Asia and Sony GEM, for comment regarding the deal. We will update this article as soon as we get it.