In the largest Japanese purchase of a U.S. company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. announced Monday that it is buying MCA Corp., owner of Universal Studios, for $6.06 billion.
Matsushita, a $27 billion giant known for such brand names as Panasonic, Quasar and Technics, is Japan's biggest manufacturer of consumer electronics equipment.By buying the maker of such box office hits as "Jaws" and "Back to the Future," Matsushita seemed to be trying to keep pace with archrival Sony Corp., which bought Columbia Pictures for $5 billion a year ago, analysts said.
Universal is the fourth Hollywood studio to come under foreign control. The deal seems likely to heighten fears in the United States that too many major U.S. companies are falling under Japanese control.
Under the agreement, Matsushita is to start a cash tender offer of $66 a share for MCA's common stock by Nov. 30.
MCA Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer, 77-year-old Lew Wasserman, stands to earn about $330 million from the deal. Wasserman had personal holdings of 5 million MCA shares, or 7 percent, and controlled an additional 6 million through trusts and charities.
"Matsushita is a great international company," Wasserman said. "This combination assures the structural integrity of MCA and its worldwide operation. MCA will continue to operate under its own name and will be run by its existing management."