Sony Music Entertainment Japan has paid CAN $237 million (US$185 million) in cash to acquire 39% of Peanuts Holdings – the company behind the famous Snoopy and Charlie Brown cartoons.

SMEJ will indirectly purchase 49% of DHX Media’s 80% interest in Peanuts.

The deal leaves DHX Media with 41% of Peanuts, SMEJ with the aforementioned 39%, and the members of the family of Charles M. Schulz will continue to own 20%.

DHX Media and SMEJ have also agreed to extend the duration of the current Licensing and Syndication Agency agreement with SMEJ’s consumer products division, Sony Creative Products Inc. (“SCP”) in Japan.

SCP has represented Peanuts since 2010, and is currently spearheading multiple licensing programs celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Peanuts’ launch in Japan.

Although SMEJ contributes to the overall Sony Corp music division, it is run separately from Sony Music Entertainment – headed up by CEO Rob Stringer in New York.

The acquisition of a stake in Peanuts will no doubt lead to some raised eyebrows at Universal and Warner.

“SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT (JAPAN) HAS INCREDIBLE EXPERTISE IN RIGHTS MANAGEMENT ACROSS THE ENTERTAINMENT AND CONSUMER PRODUCTS INDUSTRIES, HAVING SUCCESSFULLY GROWN THE PEANUTS BUSINESS IN JAPAN OVER 200% SINCE THEY BECAME OUR AGENT IN 2010.”

MICHAEL DONOVAN, DHX MEDIA

As MBW has previously pointed out, Sony’s music division is technically the biggest music rights company in the world in terms of annual revenue – but only because of its ‘Visual Media and Platform’ division, which turned over $2.2bn in calendar 2017.

This performance was led by a mobile video game called Fate/Grand Order which, like Peanuts, arguably has little to do with the music industry.

“We are honoured to deepen our relationship with Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) as we continue our expansion of Peanuts globally,” said Michael Donovan, Executive Chair and CEO of DHX Media.

“Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) has incredible expertise in rights management across the entertainment and consumer products industries, having successfully grown the Peanuts business in Japan over 200% since they became our agent in 2010. This transaction will allow DHX Media to de-lever our balance sheet as we team up with an ideal partner to help us reach our worldwide growth targets for Peanuts in the coming years.”

DHX Media and SMEJ aim to complete the transaction on or about June 30, 2018.

The completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, required regulatory approvals, applicable third party consents and the execution of certain ancillary agreements.