Sony Pictures Television Networks has reached an agreement to acquire a substantial majority in leading anime distributor Funimation Productions, subject to regulatory approval and other conditions. Gen Fukunaga, CEO of Funimation, will retain a minority stake and remain in his position.
“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 the statement.
The announcement from Sony states that the deal values the company at “approximately $150 million.” Variety reports that the agreement is about $143 million for a 95% majority stake.
The acquisition would build on Sony Pictures Television Networks’ existing anime footprint established through its multiplatform network ANIMAX, currently operating in 23 countries (including Japan).
“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.
Based in Flower Mound, Texas, Funimation is North America’s top English-language anime provider, with a catalog of hit titles including Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop, One Piece, My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan. In addition to licensing and distributing Japanese content in the US, Funimation also operates SVOD service FunimationNOW.
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.”
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.