MCA Inc., Japanese conglomerate near agreement on $6.7 billion merger


NEW YORK -- MCA Inc., one of the nation's largest entertainment companies, and the Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. of Japan are expected to announce as early as today that they will merge.

The board of MCA, which owns Universal Studios, Universal Pictures and MCA Records, will meet in New York today and is expected to accept Matsushita's offer, which is believed to total $6.7 billion to $6.9 billion, mostly in cash. For stockholders, such a deal would value their shares at $72 to $74.

Matsushita is known to have offered $70 a share, while MCA was seeking $75. In recent days the stock has been trading in the high $60s.

People involved in the negotiations cautioned yesterday that some issues remained to be settled.

If the deal is completed, Universal would be the third major fTC Hollywood studio to be bought by foreign companies in about a year.

In 1989, the Sony Corp., a leading rival of Matsushita, bought Columbia Pictures for $5 billion. Last month, the Pathe Communications Corp., owned by the Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, completed its $1.3 billion purchase of the MGM/UA Communications Corp.

A fourth studio, 20th Century Fox, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which is incorporated in Australia. And various Japanese and French companies have invested millions in smaller entertainment companies.

The negotiations between MCA and Matsushita were disclosed by the companies in September.

Matsushita, best known for its consumer electronics sold under the Panasonic, Quasar and Technics brand names, has become a major force in industrial equipment and semiconductors and controls an empire of 87 Japanese companies and nearly as many abroad.

MCA, founded in 1923 by Jules Stein as the Music Corporation of America, has one of the most stable managements in the entertainment business.

Its chairman, Lew Wasserman, and its president, Sidney J. Sheinberg, have run the company for decades.

The merged company would be forced to create a separate company, owned by MCA shareholders, that would own the New York area's WWOR-TV, because foreign ownership of broadcast stations is prohibited.

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