Comcast will pick up 51% stake in Universal Studios Japan (USJ) through its media subsidiary NBCUniversal for $1.5bn (£980m). The deal is set to be the biggest overseas deal carried out by the US cable operator. Current shareholders Goldman Sachs, MBK Partners and USJ CEO Glenn Gumpel will collectively retain 49% stake in the theme park.
"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," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said. "This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally."
Comcast is expected to close the deal in three to four weeks after which Gumpel, who has been USJ's CEO from 2004, will be replaced by Universal Parks and Resorts CFO Jean-Louis Bonnier. USJ is valued at ¥750bn (£4bn, $6.2bn), including debts of ¥400bn, Comcast said.
Comcast had lately tried to acquire rival Time Warner Cable, but the deal fell through as regulators objected to the takeover. The company's largest overseas investment prior to USJ was back in 2004, when it acquired German online game-maker Bigpoint for $78m, according to Bloomberg.
In 2001, USJ entered into a joint venture with Osaka city and a group of private firms and debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. However, as the theme park witnessed a decline in visitor arrivals, it was delisted in 2009. And Comcast has said that it may not be listed in the near future as well.
Universal Studios in Osaka was struggling to generate revenue but turned tables after it launched The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction last year. In 2014, the park recorded 11.8 million footfalls, up 16.8% and revenues soared by 44% to ¥138.5bn.