Japan's oldest film production company Nikkatsu is selling its studio - one of the largest and most active in Japan - for $72.7m (Y8bn). The buyer is Maru, a real estate management company owned by Masaya Nakamura, the president of Nikkatsu's corporate parent Namco.
The sale will enable Nikkatsu to raise more than half the funds it needs to clear its corporate debt, which currently amounts to $109m (Y12bn). The company hopes to reach an agreement with its creditors to pay the remaining debut by 2001 at the earliest.
Maru will acquire the studio land and buildings in the Tokyo suburb of Chofu by the end of February. Nikkatsu will then lease the studio from Maru and continue production.
After a string of failures at the box office and with various non-film ventures, Nikkatsu applied for bankruptcy protection in July 1993. Soon after, games company Namco became Nikkatsu's court-approved administrator and effective owner. In 1996 the Tokyo District Court approved Nikkatsu's restructuring plan for repaying its accumulated debt of $146m (Y16bn) over a period of 15 years.
Nikkatsu also plans to sell a golf course owned by a subsidiary and a company building that it is using for its satellite broadcasting business. Unfortunately, given depressed real estate values, these sales won't begin to cover the company's remaining debt load. Nikkatsu is expected to go to its nearly 150 corporate creditors for partial relief.