NBCUniversal Owner in Talks to Acquire Majority Stake in Universal Studios Japan

September 15, 2015, 8:55 PM · Comcast, the owner of the Universal Studios theme parks owner through its subsidiary NBCUniversal, is in talks to acquire a majority stake in the owner of Universal Studios Japan.

Back to the Future
You still can find the Institute of Future Technology at Universal Studios Japan

It might seem a bit strange that Universal doesn't actually own what happens to be the world's most-visited Universal Studios theme park, but such is the nature of foreign theme park investments. (Tokyo Disney is owned by the Oriental Land Co., not the Walt Disney Company, for another example.) Universal Studios Japan is owned by a holding company, USJ Co., which is in turn owned by a variety of investment banks and private-equity funds, including Goldman Sachs Group. USJ Co. operates Universal Studios Japan under license from NBCUniversal, but now the "mother ship" appears to want to buy into a piece of the action for itself.

The Wall Street Journal reports USJ Co. is putting off plans for an initial public offering to raise money by selling stock in the company, due to its talks with Comcast. The Journal reports that a potential deal for a stake in the company would put USJ Co.'s worth at about US$6 billion.

Universal Studios Japan welcomed more than 10 million visitors last year, helped by the opening of its Wizarding World of Harry Potter in July. Universal also holds the rights to Sesame Street, Hello Kitty and Marvel characters at the park, in addition to Universal's own franchises. USJ Co. also is in the process of developing a second theme park, without Universal branding, in Okinawa.

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Replies (11)

September 15, 2015 at 10:35 PM · Is it possible that USJ will expand and turn into a multi park resort?
September 16, 2015 at 12:06 AM · Not impossible. Tokyo Disneyland used to be only one park before expanding.
September 16, 2015 at 1:01 AM · I thought Universal only had the Marvel Theme Park rights in Florida?
September 16, 2015 at 4:04 AM · My biggest concern is what'll happen to Jaws and BTTF, 2 attractions that were, and still are, some of Universal's most popular attractions. To this day countless fans weep over the loss of these 2 attractions (Well, Jaws still has it's portion of the Studio Tour at USH, but it's only a part of another attraction and not it's own thing, so I don't count it.) USJ Co. Has been pretty lenient and allowed them to keep existing, as well as Backdraft, but the people running the American parks have shown that they have almost no regard for older attractions based on less relevant IPs, no matter how popular the attraction is. But from a business standpoint, it's probably better to keep them as it'll give long-time American Universal fans a huge reason to spend their money on a trip to Japan for a nice little nostalgia fest.
September 16, 2015 at 7:29 AM · The percentage of foreign visitors to Japan's theme parks is extremely small. I doubt they would base a business decision on what is basically an insignificant segment.
September 16, 2015 at 8:19 AM · The Marvel rights in Japan expire sometime in the 2020's.
September 16, 2015 at 8:22 AM · Universal does not remove older attractions out of spite. It is done to bring new excitement into its parks, making them more marketable and thus more profitable. I love Jaws and Back to the Future as much as anybody, but I also love progress.
September 16, 2015 at 9:37 AM · Universal owns the theme park rights to Marvel east of the Mississipi and in Japan. That's why Spiderman is in Japan.
September 16, 2015 at 1:52 PM · The Marvel rights in Japan end in the late 2020's. If Universal buys a majority stake in Universal Japan and wants to keep Spiderman it will cost them a fortune. Maybe they can work out a deal for Spiderman but they would have to agree to give up all other Marvel rights in the eastern US.
September 16, 2015 at 4:32 PM · Harry Potter keeps cashing in.
September 18, 2015 at 1:26 AM · Universal Studios is just hedging their bets.

Although they officially signed an agreement to build Universal Beijing, it's just an agreement.

I do recall that they had an agreement in place to build Universal Studios Korea until that deal fell through.

It all depends on how Shanghai Disneyland does next year when it opens.

If it swims, universal Beijing will still be a go, but it sinks like Disneyland Paris, then all bets are off.

Remember that Universal Studios also had plans to open in Dubai and Moscow as well and all that stands in Dubai still is the iconic Universal Studios Gate.

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