Jakks Pacific Inc. announced Wednesday that it is selling 3.7 million shares of the company’s common stock to Hong Kong-based Meisheng Culture Company Ltd. for a total purchase price of $19.3 million.
Meisheng already held 1.6 million shares, and the latest deal upped its stake to 19.5 percent of the company and made it the largest shareholder, surpassing a 10.8 percent stake held by Patrick Soon-Shiong. Meisheng also gets a seat on the board as part of the deal.
The transaction is subject to shareholder approval of Meisheng’s parent company, Meisheng Culture & Creative Corp., Ltd. and regulatory procedures in China.
“We are pleased that Meisheng has made the investment decision to acquire an equity stake in Jakks. This should fortify our existing relationship as joint venture partners in two jointly owned companies, one that distributes Jakks products in China and the other that develops new animation content owned by Jakks and Meisheng,” Stephen Berman, chief executive and chairman, said in a statement. “We expect the expanded relationship with Meisheng will put us in an advantageous position to realize greater opportunities in China.”
Jakks has been increasingly growing its reach in China. Last month it announced the renewal of a multi-year licensing agreement for more than 50 Walt Disney Co. entertainment properties for distribution in China. The agreement includes Disney Princess and Disney Frozen peroperties, and new entertainment properties from Disney movies “Tangled,” “Moana,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
“50 percent of Jakks portfolio is Disney. 70 percent of their portfolios are branded licenses owned by other companies, and 30 percent are brands they own,” said Stephanie Wissink, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, a financial services firm.
In October, Jakks launched Studio JP in partnership with Meisheng’s animation studio, Rising Anime, to develop and sell toys and other products marketed through the cartoons being developed through the animation company for Chinese children.
Xiaoqiang Zhao, who is the executive director of Meisheng Culture Company Ltd. and chairman of the board of its parent company Meisheng Culture & Creative Corp. Ltd., will join the Jakks board of directors.
“Investing in Jakks is an important factor in our global market strategy,” Zhao said in a statement. “We believe this investment will contribute to Meisheng’s growth and impact in overseas markets. We are optimistic that we will be able to help Jakks expand its market share in Asia, and especially in China.”
Manufacturing and trade reporter Shwanika Narayan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shwanika.