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American Company Blackstone Inc. To Acquire Japan’s Largest E-Manga Site In USD 1.7 Billion Deal

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Blackstone Inc., the world’s largest alternative asset manager, is set to acquire Infocom, Japan’s largest e-manga platform, in a deal valued at $1.7 billion.

This marks Blackstone’s biggest private equity transaction in Japan to date.

Blackstone will purchase a majority stake in Infocom from Teijin and launch a tender offer for the remaining shares at ¥6,060 each. The deal values Infocom’s equity at about ¥275 billion ($1.7 billion).

The deal will give Blackstone access to Japan’s booming digital manga market, estimated to be worth $3 billion.

Infocom’s main revenue source is Mecha Comic, a popular website and app offering serialized manga for a small fee per chapter.

Mecha Comic platform is a leading destination for digital manga in Japan, boasting a vast library of titles catering primarily to female readers in their 30s and 40s. It contains both popular titles as well as original ones. However, it is their romance manga, that has garnered much attention.

According to Bloomberg, Blackstone’s move is a shrewd investment, recognizing the untapped potential of Japan’s “soft power empire.”

They highlighted the growing global influence of Japanese manga and anime and suggest that Blackstone is ahead of the curve in capitalizing on this cultural phenomenon.

Blackstone plans to expand Infocom’s original content, focusing on genres popular with its primarily female readership, a demographic with growing disposable income.

Atsuhiko Sakamoto, Blackstone’s head of private equity in Japan, sees potential in developing animation and merchandise based on popular titles.

He noted that while Infocom has a small English-language business in North America, Blackstone would prioritize building up original content creation in Japan before expanding overseas.

The more original content we have, we can monetize that intellectual property over time,” Sakamoto said in an interview. “We can create animation or merchandising around that, which is going to be the potential opportunity in the midterm.

Right now, original content brings in about 10% of revenue of the platform.

The acquisition comes amid a surge in global interest in Japanese content, with streaming platforms vying for rights to popular manga stories for live-action or animated adaptations.

Additionally, digital manga sales in Japan has grown too, reaching approximately ¥483 billion ($3.1 billion) in 2023, nearly doubling since 2019, while print manga sales have declined.

Sony Music Entertainment was previously reported to be competing with Blackstone and KKR & Co. to acquire Infocom. The bidding process reportedly involved multiple rounds.

Infocom’s shares closed at ¥6,030 in Tokyo trading, having more than doubled since early March when reports of the potential sale emerged.

Blackstone envisions a five-year plan for Infocom, culminating in a public offering. However, Sakamoto acknowledged the possibility of other companies being interested in acquiring the business due to its strong content portfolio.

If we build a nice content business, I think it’s going to be very attractive to a lot of people,” he said.

Source: Japan Times

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