With a new name and new parent company Navarre firmly behind it, FUNimation Entertainment (née Productions) is ramping up activities, planning to grow its infrastructure and embark on an acquisition spree.
Now that its sale to the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based home entertainment and software distributor has been finalized, FUNimation president Gen Fukunaga says he plans to make good use of his increased access to capital. He’ll be heading to the table with Navarre brass in the coming weeks to hammer out some strategic initiatives.
Scoping out new opps for both mobile phones and portable media devices, such as Sony’s new PSP, are definitely on the books for the Fort Worth, Texas-based licensor, distributor and production company. But for now Fukunaga plans to focus on upping his aggressiveness in the acquisitions arena – aiming to double the rate of property pickups from 10 per year to 20.
While anime titles such as Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho will remain the company’s bread and butter, FUNimation will continue its recent strategy of branching out, acquiring titles across all styles and skewing demos from preschool up to teen. In fact, some of the distributor’s biggest home entertainment launches this year will be My Dad the Rock Star (Nelvana), preschool fave Noddy (Chorion) and Code Lyoko (Moonscoop), which recently went to strip on Cartoon Network. Fukunaga says potential pickups should have a good TV home already, and if there are solid ratings behind it, so much the better. A pre-existing relationship with the production company doesn’t hurt either.
Navarre’s VP of corporate relations Haug Scharnowski says it was FUNimation’s good relationships within the industry, as well as its ability to pick up solid content and build a brand through licensing, that made the company such an attractive proposition. It’s the third pick up in as many years for the conglom, which bought Encore Software in 2002 and distributor BCI Eclipse in 2003.
‘We’re now in the process of transforming our company, and moving from being just a distributor of content to owning content through licensing,’ Scharnowski says. ‘We hope to be able to cross pollinate the overall brand management knowledge that FUNimation brings to the table with our other entities.’
Fukunaga says FUNimation will benefit from Navarre’s huge reach; the company has more than 18,000 retail and distribution accounts in North America. ‘Logistics are getting more complicated in distribution, and with retailer power increasing it’s good to have someone that’s on the cutting edge,’ he says, adding that many retailers are demanding specific and expensive new technologies, such as radio frequency tags or special bar coding. ‘Navarre already has the infrastructure, and is on the leading edge with retailers to make sure it knows what’s coming down the pipeline.’