200909021231The Biggest News Week Ever in Comics ® continues with news that ADV, a leading provider of anime films and, for a while, manga, has been broken up and reassembled as four new companies, three set up by Griffin D. Vance, ADV’s former SVP Business & Legal Affairs, and one of them run by former ADV marketing director Mike Bailiff. (Former ADV staffer Chris Oarr has moved to the new company.)

The story is a hard one to track, as it unfolded yesterday over several anime news sites. ICv2 has the most concise accounting:

Longtime anime producer A.D. Vision, Inc., announced today that it had sold key assets to four companies, which will continue in inter-related businesses. Film library assets and other intellectual property were sold to AEsir Holdings; account servicing and distribution operations were sold to SXION 23 (aka Section 23); Anime Network to Valkyrie Media Partners; and Amusement Park Media (ADV’s production unit) to Seraphim Studios. It appears that all of these new entities were created to house ADV assets and did not exist before the transaction.

ANN has a further breakdown that was updated as new info became available. Among the developments, that the Anime Network, which makes anime available as a streaming internet channel, will continue business as usual.

cromartiehighschoolRobert at Anime Corner talks to Bailiff:

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Mike Baliff, formerly of ADV Films who is now heading up Sales and Marketing at the new company Section 23 Films. Section 23 has acquired all of ADV’s former licenses and most of the staff (including Chris Oarr, Destiny, Michelle, everyone formerly at ADV that mattered), and is picking up distribution of all former ADV titles, so the DVD’s will remain available and our orders will just be processed and filled by the new company. That means the changeover will be pretty much transparent to you guys. This includes pre-order items in the pipeline but not yet released. They will still be coming out, and the schedule will not change. We’ll be updating our catalog over the next few days to reflect Section 23 as the new distributor of ADV’s (former) titles. I also think it’s worth mentioning that John Ledford is not part of the new company.

And what does ALL this mean? ANN’s Christopher Macdonald has an editorial that basically explains it all. it’s a bit too complicated to paraphrase — much of it goes back to ADV’s deal with the Japanese company Sojitz, a deal which went sour and left ADV without a lot of the films it had licensed and financially hobbled.

The REALLY REALLY short version is that ADV has been broken up, Tim Geithner-style, into a “bad anime distribution company” and several “good anime distribution companies”. The old ADV carries the debts and obligations while the four new companies contain all the good assets and can go forward.

ADV was for a while a fairly large manga publisher, with such lauded and popular titles as Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, ARIA, Cromartie High School, Apocalypse Meow, Yotsuba&! and Gunslinger Girl. They had stopped publishing in recent years, and a few of the best licenses were picked up by other publishers, including Yotsuba&! at Yen press.

The move leaves yet another of the founding pioneers of anime in America, John Ledford, in limbo and his original company in the history books and not a thriving business. It’s in many ways similar to Central Park Media and John O’Donnell, which got caught up in the general decline of the DVD business in general and the anime business in particular, especially the 2006 bankruptcy of the Musicland chain.

The official announcement is under the cut.

A.D. VISION, INC. (“ADV” or the “Company”) announced today that June 1, 2009, the Company concluded a series of transactions that are expected to result in seamless delivery of home video products and television programming to customers.

Through an asset purchase agreement, AEsir Holdings, LLC (“Aesir”) acquired a subordinated interest in selected programming from ADV’s film library together with other intellectual property subject to all liens and security interests of the Company’s senior secured lender. The transaction requires Aesir to assume specific obligations and scheduled liabilities of the Company under legacy license agreements associated with the acquired programming.

Concurrently, the Company concluded an asset purchase agreement with SXION 23, LLC, doing business as “Section23 Films,” a home video distribution company, under which it assumes account servicing and distribution operations in connection with the library acquired by Aesir, subject to all liens and security interest of the Company’s senior secured lender.

John Ledford, ADV’s President and CEO, states “We believe the actions we initiated and completed provided the same or more value to the Company’s secured lender and its programming licensors while giving other key stakeholders such as employees and customers some potential value or the reasonable probability of realizing value.”

In a separate transaction, Valkyrie Media Partners, LLC (“Valkyrie”) acquired a 100% equity position in Anime Network, Inc. (“ANI”), formerly ADV’s television unit, pursuant to a stock purchase agreement between ADV and Valkyrie. That transaction includes an assumption by Valkyrie of specific liens and security interests of the Company’s senior secured lender.

In another separate transaction, Seraphim Studios, LLC acquired Amusement Park Media, the production unit of A.D. Vision, Inc.

Further announcements are expected from the respective acquiring entities over the coming days.