Comcast Takes Majority Stake in Universal Studios Japan


OSAKA: Comcast NBCUniversal is taking a 51-percent interest in Universal Studios Japan (USJ) for $1.5 billion.

The recapitalization transaction is in partnership with the current owners, including Goldman Sachs, USJ CEO Glenn Gumpel, Asian private-equity firm MBK Partners and U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek Asset Management, who will retain a minority stake. The deal values USJ at $6.2 billion.

Open since 2001, USJ currently operates as an independent company, under license from NBCUniversal. With majority ownership by Comcast, it will be able to work closely with NBCUniversal's Universal Parks & Resorts division. Jean-Louis Bonnier, the CFO of Universal Parks & Resorts, has been tapped as USJ's new CEO, replacing Glenn Gumpel, who is retiring.

“We are excited to expand our global footprint with this wonderful theme park in Osaka and are excited by the opportunities that lie ahead in Japan and all of Asia,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast. “This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally.”

Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal, added, "We want to expand our theme park business around the world and this investment in Universal Studios Japan fits perfectly with that strategy. Our theme parks in the U.S. have performed exceptionally well and we look forward to working with our partners to achieve that success in Japan as we introduce significant attractions at USJ over the next five years."