Sony Pictures Television Networks will acquire 95% of anime distributor FUNimation Productions for $143 million, valuing the company at $150 million, according to Variety. Company founder Gen Fukunaga will retain a stake and remain as CEO, according to the report.
“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.
Comcast’s Universal film division had previously kicked the tires on FUNimation (see “Geek M&A Round-Up”).
FUNimation will join Sony Pictures Television Networks’ other major anime distribution asset, Animax, which has been distributing anime on multiple platforms in Asia since 2004 (see “Sony Launches Animax Asia”).
This is Fukunaga’s second time around selling FUNimation. He sold the company to home media distributor Navarre Corporation in 2005 for $115 million in cash and stock (see “Navarre Completes FUNimation Acquisition”), then bought it back with an investment group six years later for $24 million in cash (see “Navarre Sells FUNimation”). The $150 million valuation in the Sony deal represents over a 6X increase in value since 2011. FUNimation’s sales are over $100 million per year.
FUNimation competitor and sometime collaborator Crunchyroll was sold to Chernin Group in 2013 for “less than $100 mllion” (see “Crunchyroll Sold”).