Honyaku Pays USD 4.8m for Tokyo Rival and Buys Stake in MT Vendor

Japanese language services provider Honyaku Center Inc. announced on October 30, 2017 that it is acquiring Media Research Inc. for JPY 551m (USD 4.8m) as well as a 13% stake in Mirai Translate from Osaka-based FueTrek.

With the acquisitions, the company said it hopes to expand its translation business as it anticipates that “customers’ needs and markets will change faster than expected” in the coming years.

Both Tokyo-based companies have been providing translation and interpreting services as well as developing machine translation technologies and custom system solutions for enterprises.

Even prior to the acquisition, Honyaku said it was already in talks with Media Research about developing a neural machine translation (NMT) engine for “industrial” (read: manufacturing, tech doc) translation.

Established in 1993, Media Research has been a subsidiary of FueTrek since October 2014. In the past three years, it has doubled its revenues from JPY 845m (USD 7.4m) from 2014/15 (fiscal year ending March 2015) to JPY 1.6bn (USD 14.3m) in 2016.

At the end of fiscal year 2016/17, operating income was up 47.8% to JPY 34m (USD 0.30m) from JPY 23m (USD 0.20m) for the same period in fiscal year 2016.

Under the terms of the deal, Honyaku will purchase a 100% stake in Media Research effective November 15, 2017.

Mirai Translate, on the other hand, was established as a joint venture by FueTrek with Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo and machine translation provider SYSTRAN International in October 2014.  

At the time of Honyaku’s purchase (effective October 31, 2017), FueTrek owns 13% of the company while NTT DoCoMo retained its majority share at 51%. Co-founder SYSTRAN and Panasonic Corporation each owns 18% of the company.  

FueTrek is a provider of speech recognition, speech synthesis and dialog, and automatic translation in Japan.

Aside from Media Research and Mirai Translate, FueTrek’s portfolio of companies includes speech recognition technology provider ATR-Trek Co. Ltd., systems development company SuperOne Co. Ltd., video production house Media Japan Co. Ltd., and advertising agency Media Japan Agency Co. Ltd.

Honyaku Center, which reported a decline in revenue in the first fiscal quarter of 2017 due to a downturn in conference services, said the bright spot in the business is the translation services unit, which upended the business with its 12.2% growth year-on-year. The interpretation business also did well with a 29.8% growth year-on-year.

It said translation growth was strongest in verticals such as manufacturing, financial and legal, patent translation and life sciences.