VIZ appoints new Chairman, CFO

Official Press Release

San Francisco, Calif., February 4, 2004 – VIZ, LLC, (www.viz.com) one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga comics and anime content for North American audiences, today announced that it has appointed Hidemi Fukuhara as the new vice chairman and chief financial officer (CFO). Mr. Fukahara replaces Mr. Satoru Fujii, who is retiring from day-to-day operations, but will remain on the VIZ Board of Directors.

In his new capacity, Mr. Fukahara will direct and oversee all financial and operational concerns of the company. He will be responsible for the company's domestic and foreign financial and fiscal management policies, provide guidance to senior-level management and help to direct the daily operation of the company. In addition, Mr. Fukahara will develop and supervise the implementation of VIZ's strategic business roadmap, programs and systems as well as represent the company externally to the media, investment community and the general public.

"We're delighted to have such a seasoned financial executive as Mr. Fukuhara join our executive team," states Mr. Seiji Horibuchi, president and CEO of VIZ. "Mr. Fukuhara has had a stellar career during his nineteen years at Merrill Lynch, leading the company's overseas Japan business to become the market's dominant incumbent during his tenure. VIZ is on an aggressive growth path to expand and diversify its businesses into new market frontiers, and Mr. Fukuhara's proven fiscal and managerial experience in guiding companies on the fast track to success will prove invaluable in helping us to achieve our goals?"

"I chose VIZ because of its strong management team, large catalog base, and unified vision of becoming the leading provider of anime and manga in North America," adds Mr. Fukuhara. "Anime and manga are amongst the fastest growing markets in America and its fan base is growing across all ages and cultures. I look forward to leveraging my financial and management background in helping to drive the executive team, optimizing workflow efficiencies and helping the company focus on the creation of additional services and products that will complement the market's direction – maximizing our revenue and profit base for many years to come."

Mr. Fukuhara brings to VIZ over thirty years of senior executive and financial experience with a diverse background that includes strategic planning, finance, operations, cost and business management. Mr. Fukuhara honed his managerial and leadership skills early on while employed at Merrill Lynch Japan Securities (MLJS) in Japan. He moved quickly up the ranks from the Fixed Income Sales Department to become the Managing Director of MLJS's Sales Division. Under his command, revenues soared from $30 million to over $500 million. Soon after, Mr. Fukuhara was appointed president and representative director for Merrill Lynch Asset Management where, under his guidance and leadership, the assets under management (AUM) continued to grow at an exponential rate, reaching a high of $9 billion. Most recently, he was named Vice President and Director of Merrill Lynch Japan Securities, Co., Ltd. Mr. Fukuhara graduated from Hitotsubashi University, Japan, with a BA in Economics.

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