Entertainment giant MCA Inc., parent of Universal Studios, confirmed Tuesday that it is in buyout talks after a newspaper identified the potential suitor as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. of Japan.
The news sent the company's stock price soaring 67 percent.The Wall Street Journal said people it did not identify who were familiar with the talks said the huge Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer was considering acquiring MCA for $80 to $90 a share, or a range of about $6.7 billion to $7.5 billion.
In Japan, a Matsushita official who spoke on condition of anonymity said MCA is one of the companies with which Matsushita is involved in talks, but that nothing has been decided.
Later, MCA issued a statement in which it confirmed it is "in discussions with a major international company regarding a possible negotiated acquisition of MCA."
"The discussions are continuing on a friendly basis. No agreement has been reached. There is no assurance that an agreement will be reached," the statement said.
If the deal materialized, it would be the second major transaction in which a Japanese manufacturer of electronic hardware acquired a U.S. maker of entertainment programs.
Last year, Sony Corp. acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc. for $5 billion. The deal stirred criticism about Japanese control of American assets. MCA, based in Universal City, Calif., is the parent of Universal Studios and produces films and TV shows in addition to having interests in publishing and theme parks.
MCA stock has been trading well below the deal price, and its shares rocketed higher Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. MCA climbed $23 to $57.50 a share when trading opened.
Matsushita's brands include Panasonic, Technics and Quasar. The company had revenue of about $44.4 billion in the year ended March 31.
The Journal report said individuals with knowledge of the talks cautioned that it was far from certain that a deal would materialize.
They said that regulatory barriers that did not figure in the Sony-Columbia deal remain. MCA, for instance, owns an independent television station, WWOR in Secaucus, N.J., which a foreign company would be prevented from owning.