Comcast Corp. will take full ownership of Japanese theme-park owner USJ Co., expanding its biggest overseas investment in a bet on the global popularity of entertainment assets such as Harry Potter.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit will pay $2.3 billion for the remaining 49 percent stake in the owner of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, according to a statement Tuesday. The Philadelphia-based company bought out Goldman Sachs, former Universal Studios Japan Chief Executive Officer Glenn Gumpel, private-equity firm MBK Partners and U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek Asset Management.
Comcast is trying to leverage the global appeal of its Universal Studios film franchises to provide getaways for the growing middle class in Asia. The company is building a theme park destination in Beijing and has a license agreement with Universal Studios Singapore.
The Universal Studios Japan theme park, which launched with a license from NBCUniversal as a joint venture between Osaka and a group of private companies, opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in 2014 and plans to debut Minion Park, the world’s largest Minion-themed area, featuring rides and shops.
In 2015, NBCUniversal paid $1.5 billion for a 51 percent stake in USJ Co. Comcast had gained the Universal film and U.S. theme park businesses after it agreed in 2013 to pay General Electric Co. $16.7 billion for company ownership of NBCUniversal, which also gave Comcast control of the NBC broadcast network, as well as cable channels MSNBC and Bravo.
The transaction reflects an enterprise value of 840 billion yen ($7.4 billion), including the assumption of debt. The deal is expected to close in April.
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.