Sony Pictures TV Networks to Acquire Funimation, Valuing Anime Distributor at $150 Million

Sony Pictures Television Networks will acquire a 95% majority stake in U.S.-based anime distributor Funimation Productions for about $143 million.

The deal values Funimation, which was founded in 1994, at around $150 million.

Funimation’s catalog includes such titles as “Dragon Ball Z,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “One Piece,” “My Hero Academia,” and “Attack on Titan,” and last year acquired U.S. rights to Japanese smash hit “Your Name” (pictured above). The deal will augment Sony Pictures Television Networks’ multiplatform Animax network, geared around Japanese anime content, in 23 countries including Japan.

Gen Fukunaga, founder and CEO of Funimation, will retain a minority stake in the business and remain chief exec. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and certain other closing conditions.

“With the acquisition of Funimation, the combined [intellectual property] of Animax, Kids Station and Funimation allows us to deliver the best anime to fans across all screens and platforms,” Andy Kaplan, president of worldwide networks for Sony Pictures Television, said in a statement.

Funimation, based in Flower Mound, Texas, licenses, adapts and distributes anime content from Japanese rights holders internationally. Its catalog includes more than 10,000 hours of content with rights to over 450 brands and provides dubbed and subbed anime across multiple channels. The company operates the FunimationNow streaming platform for North American English-language audiences.

“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,” Funimation’s Fukunaga said in a statement.

With the Sony Pictures Television Networks deal, chairman John A. Kuelbs will depart from Funimation. Kuelbs said in a joint statement with lead investor Doug Deason, “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 acted as financial adviser to Funimation along with Kelly Hart & Hallman as legal adviser. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher acted as legal adviser to Sony Pictures Television Networks on the deal.

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