Sony Takes $400 Million Stake in Chinese Online Giant Bilibili

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Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida

The minority holding, paid for by Sony Corp. of America, will usher in collaboration in China in the anime and mobile gaming arenas.

Sony Corp. has paid $400 million for a 4.98 percent stake in Chinese online entertainment player Bilibili.

The all-cash deal for the minority holding, made through subsidiary Sony Corporation of America, will see Bilibili and Sony collaborate in entertainment businesses in the Chinese market, including anime and mobile games.

Bilibili, popular with China's Gen Z consumer market, also has broadcast and video-sharing businesses and has entertained younger Chinese audiences self-isolating through their coronavirus crisis.

Rui Chen, chairman and CEO of Bilibili, welcomed the Sony partnership with the popular anime and video platform. "The strategic investment and business cooperation further align our goals to bring best-in-class content offerings and services to our users, as we increase our domestic stronghold in animation and mobile games. We look forward to joining efforts on a broader scale to fulfill the tremendous and growing entertainment needs in China," he said in a statement.

The Sony investment in Bilibili also comes as the fast-expanding anime and video-sharing site, like other global entertainment players, deals with rising content production costs.

Sony Corp. in a March 27 update on the impact the coronavirus crisis has had on its businesses said the Japanese conglomerate's gaming division would experience "no material impact on this business for the current fiscal year," which ended on March 31. Looking ahead, Sony warned: "Although no issues have emerged so far, Sony is carefully monitoring the risk of delays in production schedules for game software titles at both its first-party studios and partner studios, primarily in Europe and the U.S."

The transaction will see Sony Corp. of America acquire just over 17.3 million newly-issued shares of Bilibili, each priced at around $23.10. The deal is expected to close by April 10, subject to closing conditions.