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Matsushita Sells Off Remaining Universal Studios Stake

Osaka, Japan — Matsushita Electric sold off its remaining 7.66 percent stake in Universal Studios to France-based Vivendi Universal in a deal reportedly worth $1.15 billion.

The deal, which closes Feb. 7, will give Vivendi Universal 100 percent of Universal Studios Holding I Corp., and will end Matsuhita’s 15-year investment in the studio.

In a statement, Matsushita executives said “it is no longer strategically important to maintain capital ties with any particular business partner.”

The company explained that in the emerging age of Internet distribution of video, it is important to deal with all content sources.

Matsushita said the sale will add $85 million to its earnings.

Matsushita originally acquired its stake in the studio when it bought out MCA, which preceded Universal, in a $6 billion deal.

The deal failed to generate the kinds of “synergies” Matsushita originally envisioned, and the company sold an 80 percent stake in MCA to Seagram in 1995. Seagram was acquired in 2000 by Vivendi Universal.

Further evidence of those failed synergies two years ago, when Universal Studios opted to back HD DVD in the next-generation optical disc format war over the Blu-ray Disc system being championed by Matsushita.