NAMCO, BANDAI ANNOUNCE MERGER; STOCKS LEAP ON NEWS
TOKYO - Namco Ltd. and toy manufacturer Bandai Co. , creator of Power Rangers, the Tamagotchi virtual pet, Astro Boy and other properties , have announced plans to merge. Bloomberg reported the deal calls for Bandai to pay $1.7 billion in cash and stock, on a two shares-for-one stock swap basis, to acquire a controlling interest in Namco. Approval by both companies' shareholders is expected in late June. A joint stock company called Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. will be created on Sept. 29; negotiations for the merger began last September, a source told VT. Bandai will control a 57% stake of NBHI, and Namco the remaining 43%. The merged entity will represent annual combined sales of $4.28 billion, second only to Sega Sammy Holdings in the Japanese amusements industry. Bandai president Takeo Takasu will serve as NBHI's president and Namco vice-chairman Kyushiro Takagi will assume the role of NBHI chairman. Analysts described the merger as a shrewd move in a maturing market that will offer Namco more capital and a stable of popular characters for game development, while bringing hi-tech expertise to Bandai. Executives said staff cuts are not expected. Namco stock rose nearly 9% on the Japanese market following the announcement.
The Bandai Group, regarded as the world's largest toy company, produces and sells toys, candy, apparel, films, music and animation. The company was founded in Tokyo in July 1950 by Naoharu Yamashina, and its first product, "Rhythm Ball," launched in September that year. Bandai also manufactures capsuled novelty vending machines and the figurines and toys that go in them. "Capsule Station" venders, which are prolific throughout Asia, are supported annually by about two dozen new collections based on world-leading toy, film and video game licenses. The company's vending business emerged in 1977, when its first toys for capsules rolled out.
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