Comcast to buy 51% of Universal Studios Japan for $1.5 bn

US cable giant Comcast Corp today struck a deal to buy a 51 per cent stake in Japan-based theme park operator USJ Co for $1.5 billion.

Comcast's NBCUniversal unit will buy the stake in USJ, the operating company of the Osaka-based Universal Studios Japan theme park.

The remaining 49 per cent will be retained by current owners Goldman Sachs Group and Seoul-based private equity firm MBK Partners and others will retain a 49 per cent stake in USJ, the operator of Universal Studios Japan.

''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 Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast. ''This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally.''

''We want to expand our theme park business around the world and this investment in Universal Studios Japan fits perfectly with that strategy,'' added Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. ''Our theme parks in the US have performed exceptionally well and we look forward to working with our partners to achieve that success in Japan as we plan to introduce significant attractions at USJ over the next five years.''

Acquiring majority ownership of Universal Studios Japan is part of Comcast NBCUniversal's ongoing investment strategy for its US parks in Orlando and Hollywood after it dropped its $45.2 billion bid in April to buy Time Warner Cable amid opposition from antitrust regulators.

Opened in 2001, USJ is one of four Universal Studios theme parks owned and operated by USJ Co with a license from NBCUniversal.

The park is similar to the Universal Orlando Resort and most of its visitors from its home country as well as tourists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

It received a record 12.7 million visitors in the fiscal year through March 2015 and had sales of 138.5 billion.