Matsushita President May Meet With MCA Over Reported Buyback Effort
TOKYO (AP) _ Top executives of Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. may meet soon with key officials of its American entertainment subsidiary, MCA Inc., to discuss a reported effort to buy back MCA, officials said Monday.
The officials said Matsushita was surprised by news reports last week that MCA chairman Lew R. Wasserman and president Sidney J. Sheinberg want to buy back the company from the Japanese consumer electronics company.
Matsushita paid about $6.6 billion in 1990 for MCA, which owns Universal Pictures, theme parks and MCA Music.
″This is not a small, simple problem,″ said Matsushita spokesman Akira Kitazawa. ″It’s been five years since the purchase of MCA, and if this kind of issue comes up at this point, it poses a problem.″
Kitazawa said a regular quarterly meeting between Matsushita and MCA officials is scheduled for the end of this month, but the meeting may be moved up if the buyback issue is not resolved.
He said Matsushita President Yoichi Morishita will attend if necessary.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Wasserman and Sheinberg plan to meet on Tuesday in Hawaii with Matsushita executives possibly including Chairman Masaharu Matsushita to discuss management control at MCA.
The paper said people it identified only as being close to Sheinberg and Wasserman believe unless the executives gain more control or get to buy 51 percent of MCA, they will not renew their contracts expiring next year.
Their continued involvement in MCA is important because of their ties entertainment luminaries like Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
Spielberg said last week he wants to keep doing business with MCA as long as Sheinberg remains there. Spielberg’s Amblin Productions is housed on MCA property. While he has no formal relationship with MCA, it has released many of his films including ″Jurassic Park″ and ″E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial.″
Spielberg, music and film executive Geffen and ex-Walt Disney Co. executive Jeffrey Katzenberg announced last week they are creating new studio. The news was regarded as a seismic shakeup in the Hollywood power structure.
Matsushita’s Kitazawa said talks on MCA are being held between the MCA executives and Matsushita officials at MCA offices in Los Angeles.
Japanese news reports said those talks, and messages sent by Morishita to Wasserman, have not resolved the issue.
Matsushita executives have played little direct role in the running of the company, and by many accounts feel ill at ease in Hollywood affairs. The Japanese company has, however, tried to control spending as its sales of consumer electronic products stagnated in recent years.
Following the reports of a buyback, Matsushita reiterated last Friday that it has no plans to sell MCA.
Matsushita, the world’s largest consumer electronics maker, is best known for its Technics, Panasonic and Quasar brands.