Comcast Will Buy 51% Stake in Universal Studios Japan for $1.5 Billion

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Comcast Buying 51% Stake in Universal Studios Japan.

TOKYO— Comcast, CMCSA -0.49 % the largest U.S. cable operator, said Monday it will acquire a 51% stake in the holding company of Universal Studios Japan for $1.5 billion through NBCUniversal, in a deal that would help the media giant seek further growth internationally. The transaction provides that CEO Glenn Gumpel will step down and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., MBK Partners Ltd. and Gumpel will retain minority stakes in the 14-year-old theme park in Osaka. USJ had planned a Tokyo listing this year, but the timing of that has become uncertain due to concerns about being crowded out by the $11.5 billion initial public offerings of Japan Post group companies in November, two sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

He has served as CFO for Universal Parks and Resorts since 2005, leading financial planning, controllership and financial operations and playing a significant role in strategic initiatives for the division. Philadelphia-based Comcast’s, which in April dropped its bid to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. amid opposition from antitrust regulators, has been seeking growth elsewhere including from digital media in the U.S. The park opened a new $400 million Harry Potter attraction in July, 2014, with the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction and Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster. USJ, listed in 2007 but taken private by Goldman two years later as the park’s appeal faded and the number of visitors slumped, had earlier said it could seek a re-listing this year. 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.” Through its full acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2013, Comcast owns both Universal Studios and Universal Theme Parks.

It had its best year in the last financial year ended in March with 12.7 million visitors, though that trails the 31.4 million visitors to Tokyo’s Disney Resort, which includes Disneyland and DisneySea. Comcast said the purchase will allow Comcast NBCUniversal and its theme park and resorts division to expand the Osaka park — along with aligning its strategy for its U.S. parks in Orlando and Hollywood. USJ’s valuation reflects an enterprise value of 750 billion yen ($6.2 billion), said Ankur Sahu, Goldman Sachs managing director, at the Osaka briefing.

Comcast Corp. in 2013 gained the Universal film and theme park businesses after it agreed to pay General Electric Co. $16.7 billion for full ownership of NBCUniversal, which also gave Comcast control of the NBC broadcast network, as well as cable channels MSNBC and Bravo. NBCUniversal in August agreed to make a $200 million investment in the news website BuzzFeed and a similar amount in Vox Media, the online publisher of The Verge, Eater and Re/code, in an effort to capture the growth in digital advertising and reach younger consumers.

USJ had sales of 138.5 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March 2015, up 44 percent from a year earlier, while operating profit rose 61 percent to 39 billion yen, both all-time highs, spokesman Johta Takahashi said earlier Monday.

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