Hello, new owner Mr Men deal tickles Sanrio's fancy
SANRIO has bought the rights to the Mr Men animated characters, right, from Chorion as the Japanese company aims to cut reliance on its Hello Kitty character, which generates 80pc of Sanrio's overseas licensing revenue.
Sanrio will acquire all shares of the Mr Men animated film development and production unit from London-based Chorion, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement yesterday.
Mr Men will be the first characters at Sanrio not developed inside the company, which was founded by 83-year-old President Shintaro Tsuji in 1960.
Sanrio has licensed the images of Hello Kitty and other characters it developed for use on about 50,000 items, including Zara Hello Kitty T-shirts sold in more than 70 countries.
Sanrio "should be able to increase sales of Mr Men", said Takashi Oka, a Tokyo-based analyst at TIW. "Sanrio won't stop here and will carry on acquiring global characters."
Sanrio was unchanged at the close of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The stock has more than doubled this year, making it the eighth-biggest gainer among 1,662 stocks in Japan's Topix index, which has declined 18pc.
"We need to strengthen our line-up of global characters," said a Sanrio spokesman.
He declined to discuss terms of the deal.
Chorion, acquired in 2006 by 3i Group, Europe's largest publicly traded private equity firm, owns brand rights including Agatha Christie, Oxygen, Tiger Tiger and Toyland. (Bloomberg)