Mobile social gaming company DeNA Co. announced Friday it has purchased the cash-strapped Yokohama BayStars baseball club.
The team will be renamed the Yokohama DeNA BayStars if the deal is approved at an owners meeting set for Dec. 1. Nine of the 12 owners in Nippon Professional Baseball have to OK the deal.
DeNA, operator of the popular mobile social game platform Mobage Town, initially wanted to include “Mobage” in the team name but faced opposition from some club owners because Mobage is not in the company’s name.
“The people of this country love the game of baseball more than I ever knew. We can turn this into power,” said DeNA Chairman Makoto Haruta. “We feel the responsibility to do our utmost given this opportunity. We want to operate the team in such a way as to usher in the next generation.”
According to a DeNA press release, the company purchased 66.92 percent, or 870,000, of the club’s outstanding shares from Tokyo Broadcasting System for ¥6.5 billion. DeNA will also pay a guarantee deposit to NPB worth ¥3 billion, bringing the total purchase price to ¥9.5 billion.
TBS will now own 2.31 percent of the club’s stock, and assist club operations, while Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. will continue to own 30.77 percent of the shares.
The hand-over was OK’d Friday at an extraordinary board meeting of the club after being approved at board meetings of both DeNA and TBS. A membership application was sent to Nippon Professional Baseball in the afternoon.
Reports said TBS has been trying to sell its stake in the team for nearly two years. The BayStars have been losing around ¥2 billion a year and have been cellar dwellers in the Central League standings.
The Yokohama franchise dates to 1950, when what is now Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc., a frozen food maker, founded the Taiyo Whales. The name was changed to Yokohama BayStars in 1992.
Information from Kyodo added.