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Vivendi to acquire Matsushita's entire Universal stake

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MUMBAI: French media firm Vivendi Universal is paying $1.154 billion for Matsushita Electric Industrial's 7.66 percent stake in Universal Studios Holding I (USHI).

The deal gives Vivendi Universal 100 per cent control of USHI from its previous ownership of 92.3 percent. The transaction is expected to close on 7 February, and will improve Vivendi Universal's net earnings in 2006 by at least $30 million, the company said.

Matsushita had paid $6bn for the film studio MCA in 1990, at a time when Japanese electronics companies were on a shopping spree in Hollywood. Sony had bought Columbia Pictures the year before.

According to media reports, Matsushita said it would dissolve its US unit that was holding the stake upon completion of the deal, and the parent company would book a stock appraisal loss of 190 billion yen in the current business year to March.

Considered one of Japan's strongest electronics firms, Matsushita, which owns Panasonic, reported a third-quarter profit yesterday of $420m. The company is riding the boom in digital cameras and plasma TV sets and raised its full year earnings forecast to $1.1 billion.

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