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Yoshimoti Kogyo Buyout Deal Solidifies

TOKYO (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Yoshimoto Kogyo is finalizing plans to go private through a buyout by an investment fund of broadcasters and other companies as the major Japanese talent agency seeks to expand its entertainment business in Asia.

Quantum Entertainment, a consortium of 13 companies will be attempting to buy up at least 70% of Yoshimoto's outstanding shares between now and October 28th. Purchase of said shares is expected to cost the consortium approximately 50 billion yen, 30 billion of which will be raised through credit facilities from banks.

Investors in Quantum Entertainment, headed by former Sony Corp. Chairman and Quantum Leaps Corp. Chief Executive Officer Nobuyuki Idei, include advertising agency Dentsu Inc., Internet company Softbank Corp. and Internet search engine Yahoo Japan Corp., as well as five television broadcasters.

"We will be able to create a new foundation for growth for Japan's entertainment business as a whole," Idei said at a press conference in Tokyo.

Idei said a stronger alliance between Yoshimoto Kogyo and the five broadcasters through capital ties will allow the talent agency to distribute contents more speedily and broaden its operations to rapidly growing markets in Asia.

Established in 1912, the Osaka-based entertainment agency reps many of Japan's best-known comedians and celebrities, including Shinsuke Shimada, Samma Akashiya and comedian duos Downtown and Ninty-Nine. The company also operates a chain of theatres around Japan, including Tokyo's Yoshimoto Mugendai Hall and Yoshimoto Shotengai, a theme park in Osaka.

In recent years, the company has successfully focused heavily on stand-up and television comedy, but, the economic downturn and apparent changes in taste among Japanese consumers has led to a decline in profits at the firm for the first time in 5 years. The buyout had been initially discussed for the spring, but some of the company's creditors expressed hesitations about the deal.

"Yoshimoto depends too much on a small number of popular celebrities, which is a risk, and there are other unpredictable factors," one of its creditors said. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers