Firm to merge with Universal Pictures Japan

Universal Pictures Intl. Entertainment will acquire a majority share in Geneon, a Japanese pic and toon producer and DVD distrib that is a wholly owned subsid of ad shop Dentsu.

The deal, announced Wednesday in Tokyo, is skedded for completion early next year. The size of the stake acquired was not disclosed.

UPIE plans to merge Geneon with Universal Pictures Japan, a UPIE subsid. UPIE will own an 80.1% stake in the new entity, Dentsu the remaining 19.9%.

UPIE and Dentsu will collaborate in supporting the new company, which will distribute all Universal home entertainment content in Japan while developing a slate of local pics and other content.

UPJ and Geneon have been partners since March, with Geneon distribbing new Universal DVD releases and UPJ marketing DVDs of Universal catalog and TV titles.

Founded in 1981, Geneon distributes DVDs of Hollywood and Japanese pics, as well as TV titles, toons and other content. Recent releases include “Atonement,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Red Line” and the Japanese action pic “Shaolin Girl.”

In November 2007, Geneon exited the U.S. DVD market, a victim of the decline in the anime DVD biz. In Japan, where the softening of the packaged entertainment market has been less pronounced, it is still the sixth largest DVD distrib.

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