Studio Ghibli, the animation house that produced HayaoMiyazaki's biggest hits, including Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl'sMoving Castle, will separate from its long-time parent company, TokumaShoten Publishing, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbunnewspaper.

Ghibli has already established a Studio Ghibli Co., Ltd.By the end of the current financial year, in March, Tokuma will transfer from$143m (Y15bn) to $190m in business rights to Ghibli, including rights to pastGhibli films. The new Ghibli will then be a totally independent entity.

Miyazaki, studio co-founder Isao Takahata and studiopresident Toshio Suzuki will be managing directors. Suzuki will also retain hiscurrent post as president.

Ghibli was founded in 1985 as a subsidiary of Tokuma, apublisher with extensive media interests.

But as founder Yasuyoshi Tokuma's ambitious expansionplans went sour, the company's finances deteriorated and in 1997 Ghibli wasabsorbed into Tokuma as a corporate division. Ghibli was then turning out hitafter hit and Tokuma considered it a lifeline to financial salvation.

The company has since completed its restructuring,however and Ghibli is now free to achieve its long-desired independence. Thestudio's most recent hit, Howl's Moving Castle, passed $190m by the endof 2004 and is expected to approach the all-time record of $290.1m achieved by SpiritedAway.