"Goldman Sachs Group plans to acquire USJ, which operates the Universal Studios Japan theme park, according to an unsourced report in the Nikkei business news paper.Goldman Sachs, huh? Now why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah.
USJ spokesman Johta Takahashi said that USJ could not comment on the report, saying that 'nothing has been officially decided yet' while not denying that talks among shareholders are underway.
Goldman is currently the leading USJ shareholder, with a 41% stake. According to the Nikkei report, it will boost its share to 100% by March 31, spending approximately ¥50 billion ($561 million) to buy out other shareholders.
Goldman invested $225 million in USJ in 2005. Despite a spate of negative publicity following the opening of the Universal Studios park in 2001, from waste-contaminated land an investor, Sumitomo Metals, had provided for the park site, to the use of expired food in park concessions, USJ finally moved into the black in 2007.
In the first half of the current fiscal year, from April to September 2008, USJ recorded an operating profit of $46 million against sales of $386 million. Park attendance, however, is expected to total 8.6 million in the current fiscal year, ending on March 31, compared with 9.9 million five years earlier."