Comcast NBCUniversal Buys $1.5 Billion Majority Stake in Universal Studios Japan

The Japan-based theme park had been an independent company up to now

Last Updated: September 27, 2015 @ 10:49 PM

Comcast NBCUniversal has agreed to buy a 51% ownership stake in Universal Studios Japan for $1.5 billion, the company announced on Sunday.

Universal Studios Japan, which has experienced continued growth in attendance and revenue since it opened in 2001, currently operates as an independent company under license from NBCUniversal.

“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 & CEO of Comcast.  “This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally.”

Steve Burke, 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.”

Universal Parks & Resorts has named Jean-Louis Bonnier as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Here is the formal announcement:

Comcast NBCUniversal announced  it has agreed to purchase 51% ownership of Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in a recapitalization transaction, partnering with the current owners including Goldman Sachs, USJ’s Chief Executive Officer Glenn Gumpel, Asian private-equity firm MBK Partners, and U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek Asset Management, who will retain a minority stake.

The enterprise value of USJ is ¥750 billion (US$6.2 billion). Comcast NBCUniversal’s purchase price for the majority ownership of the popular theme park destination is ¥183 billion (US$1.5 billion).

Universal Studios Japan, which has experienced continued growth in attendance and revenue since it opened in 2001, currently operates as an independent company under license from NBCUniversal.  The theme park features classic Universal attractions as well as attractions and shows specifically designed for the Japanese market.

The purchase will allow Comcast NBCUniversal and its Universal Parks & Resorts division to build a stronger, more direct, presence in Japan while continuing to grow and evolve the theme park.

Additionally, acquiring majority ownership of Universal Studios Japan aligns with Comcast NBCUniversal’s ongoing investment strategy for its U.S. parks in Orlando and Hollywood – which have seen the introduction of many major attractions representing world-class intellectual properties, resulting in significant growth in attendance and revenue.

“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 & CEO of Comcast.  “This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally.”

Steve Burke, 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.”

Also today, Glenn Gumpel, who has served as Chief Executive Officer of Universal Studios Japan since 2004, announced his retirement from USJ, effective when the transaction closes.  Universal Parks & Resorts has named Jean-Louis Bonnier as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Bonnier has served as Chief Financial Officer for Universal Parks and Resorts since 2005, leading UPR’s financial planning, controllership and financial operations and playing a significant role in strategic initiatives for the division.

“Glenn has played a tremendous role in creating a thriving theme park destination that is both a strong business and a great source of entertainment for our guests,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Universal Parks & Resorts.  “J.L.’s broad experience with our business as well as his significant international experience make him the perfect person to continue to lead Universal Studios Japan into the future.”