Top Japanese Agency Going Private

Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of Japan’s biggest talent agencies, is planning to go private through a takeover deal worth up to $525 million, according to Variety.

The company is in negotiations with a consortium headed by Nobuyuki Idei, the former chairman of Sony, which includes several TV-related interests such as Fuji Media Holdings and Nippon Television Network.

Osaka-based Yoshimoto represents more than 800 artists, mostly comedians who have spearheaded the “owarai” (standup comedy) boom of the last decade that has reshaped Japanese television.

The company has extensive production resources and operates a chain of theaters throughout Japan that presents Yoshimoto artists. It also runs a Yoshimoto theme park in Osaka.

Because of its success, it has branched out to represent other celebrities such as singers and athletes.

The privatizing move is generally believed to be a reaction to the sluggish economic climate in that the move will help the company reorganize more readily.

Operating profits for the last fiscal year were about 26 percent less than in the previous year.