Huge news out of Japan overnight, as the winner of a months long bidding war over Japan’s Infocom has been confirmed. Infocom is considered one of the country’s largest distributors of digital manga through multiple distribution platforms.

After competing against a bid from Sony Music Entertainment that went multiple rounds along with competing bids from private equity group KKR & Co. and Japanese group Integral Corp, Blackstone Inc. has emerged as the winner for the digital comics distributor, as parent company Teijin Group is seeking to consolidate its business operations in Japan.

Mecha Comics visual
Mecha Comics visual

According to Bloomberg, Blackstone had offered about ¥260 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the company and may seek to eventually acquire all of Infocom’s shares through a takeover bid and share transfer at some point in the future, as the current purchase price is for a controlling stake of 55%.

With this purchase, it sets the floor for the valuation of digital manga distribution much higher than initially expected, no doubt helped by the massive local success of platforms developed and run by companies such as Shueisha, Shogakukan, Kakao, Naver and others.

Currently, Infocom is responsible for the operations of three digital manga distribution channels in Japan in Mecha Comic, Mecha Comic Creators, and Mecha Comic Originals while its overseas operations consists of distribution portal Peanutoon in South Korea, and English-language platform Comicle, available in the US via smartphone app.

Comicle featured image
Comicle featured image

With US-based private equity and alternative asset firms now jumping into digital manga distribution, one only wonders how much further the demand for digital manga will continue to grow, despite recent news of contraction, such as Piccoma’s withdrawl from the French market in spite of record revenue in Japan last year.

It stands to reason that digital manga is not just a matter of interest to local Japanese publishers and creators looking to shore up the losses from from decling circulation of physical magazines anymore, it’s now become yet another point of interest for outside investment, and only time will tell how Blackstone’s ownership will affect Infocom and its distribution channels in the future.

Sources: Bloomberg (via Microsoft Start)