Comcast seeking majority stake in Universal Studios Japan

September 16, 2015 09:56
Visitors pose in front of a Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Japan. A group of investors is in talks to sell a majority stake in the theme park to Comcast. Photo:  Reuters

An investor group that owns Universal Studios Japan (USJ) and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal are in talks about a stake purchase in the theme park.

The deal could value the Japanese company at US$6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other owners of USJ are selling a majority stake to Comcast, the largest US cable operator and owner of cable channels including USA, Bravo and E!

USJ, whose other shareholders include Asian private-equity firms MBK and PAG, has been looking to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange this month.

It has now pushed back the plan to next year as talks with Comcast continue.

Buying into the Japanese theme park will help NBCUniversal play catch-up with rival media giants such as 21st Century Fox, Time Warner Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc., which have been more aggressive in international markets.

NBCUniversal has license agreements with USJ in Osaka and is also the owner of Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, according to its website.

USJ opened in 2001 and made its debut in 2007 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Mothers market for startup companies.

But struggling with decreasing visitors, USJ was delisted in 2009 when Goldman injected capital into the company.

In January, USJ said the theme park had drawn its 10 millionth visitor since the beginning of the fiscal year in April 2014.

It attributed its success in boosting visitor numbers to the Harry Potter attraction, which opened in July.

The attraction features a village and castle inspired by J.K. Rowling’s popular book and movie series.

The park also has Spider-Man, Sesame Street and Jurassic Park-themed attractions.

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