Nintendo Puts Shares in Seattle Mariners up for Sale

April 28,2016
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(Photo Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

(AFP)--Nintendo said Thursday it has put some of its stake in the Seattle Mariners baseball team up for sale, as the struggling Japanese videogame giant looks to repair its finances.

The company, which did not release any financial details, said it would no longer be the team's majority owner if a deal is reached.

The firm's U.S. unit "has started negotiations to sell a portion of its ownership in First Avenue Entertainment", which operates the Mariners, Nintendo said in a statement.

"If and when the deal is done, Nintendo of America will no longer be the principal owner of the team."

Nintendo's late president Hiroshi Yamauchi bought shares in the team's operator in December 1992 when they were under threat to be relocated from Seattle.

The Mariners' roster has included many Japanese stars including prolific hitter Ichiro Suzuki.

Nintendo's ownership, the presence of Ichiro and other Japanese players on the team over the years, as well as Seattle's location on the U.S. West coast helped fuel the team's popularity among Japanese baseball fans.

Kyoto-based Nintendo has been struggling to regain revenue and profits as it lags behind competitors while long staying reluctant to stray from its console-only policy even as online games shot up in popularity.

Last month the firm released "Miitomo" -- a free-to-play and interactive game that allows users to create "Mii" avatars -- as it tries to compete in an industry that has increasingly gone online.

On Wednesday, the firm said its net profit in the fiscal year through March tumbled 60% from a year earlier, mainly due to a stronger yen, which dents profits calculated in yen.