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Navarre Sells Funimation to Group with Gen Fukunaga (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
Sold to group that includes North American anime distributor's CEO for US$24 million

The media distributor Navarre Corporation announced on Monday that it has sold its anime company Funimation to a group of investors that includes Gen Fukunaga, who is also Funimation's chief executive officer. The price of the all-cash transaction is US$24 million. Navarre will continue to serve as Funimation's exclusive distributor in the United States, as well as its logistics and fulfillment services provider. The investment group also includes John A. Kuelbs "who was then instrumental in selecting Darwin and Doug Deason to join the team," according to Funimation.

Funimation gave ANN the following statement from Fukunaga:

We have a great history with Navarre and we thank everyone there for their longstanding support throughout the last five years. It is due to Navarre's logistical expertise and wide distribution network that we were able to grow our company into the Anime industry's market share leader. Though it will no longer be our parent company, Navarre will continue to distribute our product and we look forward to working with them for years to come. We are very excited about our new partners all of whom understand our vision and will help us develop our initiatives in physical product, digital entertainment and other growth areas.

In January 2005, Navarre Corporation announced plans to acquire from a group of private owners that included Fukunaga and the Cocanaour family . The acquisition was completed in May that year. Navarre initially offered $127 million dollars for Funimation ($100.5 million in cash and $26.5 million in Navarre common stock) and $17 million in performance based earnouts, for a total of $142 million. Adjustments to the value of the Navarre stock and cancellation of the earnout payments brought the total price for Funimation down to $114 million, $90 million more than today's announced sale price.

Funimation's 2004 net sales totalled US$72 million, with pre-tax income of US$29.8 million. Earlier this year business reporter Eric Wieffering estimated Funimation's 2010 net sales at US$35 million and pre-tax income at US$10 million (Funimation's 2010 financial year ended on March 31, 2011).

Last year, Navarre announced that it was considering selling Funimation. In September, the company stated that it had six potential buyers, but announced in January that it had received no adequate offer and was considering halting the sales process.

Update: More background information added.

Update 2: Forbes reports that Darwin Deason is the #1,140 richest on its list of billionaires worldwide. He also ranks #404 among American billionaires and #385 on the Forbes 400 list. He lives in Dallas. Thanks, Charred Knight and The King of Harts.

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