Industry analysts say MCA Inc. - the entertainment giant that gave the world "E.T." and "Jaws" - is so well run that its new Japanese owners will allow creative control to remain in American hands.
In the biggest Japanese purchase ever of a U.S. company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. struck a $6.6 billion deal for MCA on Monday.The Japanese maker of video-casette recorders, televisions and stereos under such brand names as Panasonic, Technics and Quasar got a company that produces hit TV shows such as "Murder, She Wrote" and "Major Dad," records artists such as Elton John and Guns N' Roses and owns many of the biggest movies of all time.
MCA became the fourth major Hollywood studio to come under foreign control, raising fears that responsibility for the financing and political content of American entertainment is falling increasingly into non-American hands.
In a statement Monday, Matsushita indicated its awareness of American fears of Japanese investment and sought to allay them by promising to leave MCA's management intact and allow the company's direction to be determined at home.
Analysts and MCA executives said the public is unlikely to see much of a difference in movie theaters, from CD players or on TV screens.
"They bought it precisely because of management," said Jeff Logsdon of Seidler Amdec Securities Inc. "It doesn't help them to interfere in the creative process."
"I don't think Matsushita made a major investment in a company that's doing very well to try to change what it's doing," said MCA's movie chief, Tom Pollock.
Still, the deal has brought skepticism and criticism.
Record producer Quincy Jones said he was worried that the country was selling off its heritage.
In Japan, the nationally circulated Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that Matsushita pushed to close the deal before Dec. 7, the 49th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Concerns were expressed in Japanese newspapers of an anti-Japanese backlash in the United States. Backlashes followed Japanese purchases of Columbia Pictures, Rockefeller Plaza in New York and Pebble Beach in California.
To silence criticism that arose during negotiations, Matsushita said it will sell MCA's Curry Co. subsidiary, which operates restaurants, hotels and other services in Yosemite National Park.
Graphic: Biggest Japanese purchases of U.S. companies
Here are some of the largest acquisitions, in dollar terms, by Japanese interests of major stakes or controlling interests in U.S. companies, according to figures compiled by IDD information Services and the AP:
U.S. companies Japanese interests Dollar amount Announcement
MCA Inc. Matsushita Electric $6.6 billion Nov. 26, 1990
Industrial Co. Ltd.
Columbia Pictures Sony Corp. $5.0 billion Sept. 27, 1989
Firestone Tire & Bridgestone Corp. $2.65 billion Feb. 16, 1988
Inter Continental Seibu Saison $2.27 billion Sept. 30, 1988
CBS Records Sony Corp. $2.0 billion Nov. 18, 1987
Westin Hotels Aoki Corp. with the $1.53 billion Oct. 27, 1987
and Resorts Rbt. M. Bass Group
CIT Group Dai-Ichi Kangyo $1.28 billion Sept. 18, 1989
Gould Inc. Nippon Mining $1.05 billion Aug 30, 1988
Aristech Chemical Mitsubishi Corp. $859 million Jan. 16, 1990
Rockefeller Group Mitsubishi Estate Corp. $846 million Oct. 30, 1989