Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan Jr. wants to cancel his department's contract with the now Japanese-owned company running concessions in California's Yosemite National Park, according to a published report.
The Washington Post quoted Lujan in Tuesday's editions as saying he instructed department lawyers to see whether the National Park Service can cancel its contract with Yosemite Park Curry Co., a subsidiary of MCA Corp., and find a new operator.MCA is the giant entertainment conglomerate whose $6.6 billion takeover by a Japanese company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., was completed over the weekend.
"Happy New Year! A Japanese company now owns exclusive rights to do business in Yosemite," Lujan was quoted as saying. "Everywhere I go, people are not happy with foreign ownership of . . . these resources."
Matsushita has said Yosemite operations should remain U.S.-owned, and to that end plans to place Curry in escrow for a year while a buyer is sought. The company turned down an earlier Lujan proposal that it simply give the company to the National Park Service.
Lujan said he was angry because U.S. lobbyists for Matsushita originally proposed giving Curry to the government, then backed away from the idea.
During the year in escrow, the company would turn over its profits to the National Park Foundation, a private group.
The service would have to approve any buyer of Curry. The newspaper estimated Curry's value at $300 million.
Curry owns about half the restaurants, stores and lodging in Yosemite Valley and operates them under a 30-year contract expiring in 1993. It turns over to the government 75 cents for every $100 in receipts, an amount Lujan has called ludicrously low.