Nintendo announced today that it has paid $1.1 billion to buy 9.5 million shares back from the heirs of Hiroshi Yamauchi, the legendary former chief executive who turned the company into a video game giant.
The family has evidently sold about 67 percent of its stake in Nintendo. That’s a pretty big vote of no confidence for the current Nintendo chief executive, Satoru Iwata. It’s not clear what effect this will have on other shareholders.
Nintendo has been on the ropes because its Wii U video game console has sold only 5.86 million units over the past year. That is far less than expected, and Nintendo recently admitted that it would miss its Wii U console sales projections by a huge margin.
On the bright side, it isn’t clear how damaging the sale of the Yamauchi shares will be. The family has hung on to a third of its shares, and it’s not clear whether anyone in the family holds a lot of sway over other investors.
But it’s a large chunk — about 7.4 percent of the whole company — that Nintendo is buying back at 12,025 yen per share. Yamauchi served as CEO of Nintendo from 1949 until 2002.