Sanrio to License Hello Kitty Theme Park in Eastern China

Sanrio Co., the Japanese maker of Hello Kitty character goods, has agreed to work with a Chinese company to build a theme park in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, the company said.

Sanrio will license the use of its Hello Kitty characters to a closely held company in Zhejiang that plans to open a 95,000-square meter (23-acre) theme park in 2014, Hideo Yamaguchi, a Sanrio spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

“The potential for growth is in Asia,” Yamaguchi said today. “This agreement means a lot for Sanrio, as it will broaden our licensing business.”

Sanrio, founded in 1960 by Shintaro Tsuji, is known for its range of stationery, gifts and accessories bearing the Hello Kitty and Badtz-Maru characters. The Tokyo-based company follows Walt Disney Co. (DIS) in seeking to attract increasingly affluent Chinese to spend on rides and souvenirs. Disney is building a $4.4 billion resort in Shanghai.

The investment for the park is $200 million, China National Radio reported today, citing Zhang Quan, who leads the project at the Chinese company. Its name translates from Chinese as Zhejiang Yinrun Leisure Development.

Sanrio’s stock rose 0.3 percent to 2,797 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo after surging as much as 4.1 percent, while the broader Topix Index fell 0.4 percent.

Construction of the park is expected to begin in July, the China Business News newspaper reported yesterday.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Longid at flongid@bloomberg.net

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