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Studio draws buyers

Miyazaki group to take toon house Ghibli

TOKYO — Helmer Hayao Miyazaki is among a group buying out Studio Ghibli from Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. The studio is responsible for Japan’s biggest animated hits, including the director’s “Spirited Away.”

Ghibli’s top producer Toshio Suzuki, Miyazaki and other key personnel have already established an independent company with a market capitalization of ¥10 million ($96,000) and are working on the financing to buy out the rights to all past Ghibli productions. Amount needed is estimated at $96 million-$144 million.

Suzuki, director Isao Takahata and Miyazaki, who also directed the box office hit “Hauru no Ugoku Shiro” (Howl’s Moving Castle), will be on the board.

Potential financing partners are the traditional investors in Ghibli films — Toho Co., Nippon Television Network and the advertising giant Dentsu, among others. Given Ghibli’s track record, financing the deal is not expected to be a problem.

The new company will be based in Tokyo.

Studio Ghibli was established as a subsidiary of Tokuma in 1985 and absorbed into the parent company as a division 12 years later during a financial crunch at Tokuma.

Ghibli’s sale is a windfall for Tokuma. The financially strapped company is expected to make a modest profit at the end of the fiscal year (March 31) after years in trouble thanks to a revitalization plan put together by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

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