OSAKA, Japan, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Comcast Corp. announced Monday it would purchase a controlling interest in Universal Studios Japan to expand the company's presence in foreign countries.
"We had this ambition really since the beginning of our purchase of NBCUniversal," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a news conference in Osaka. "We see Comcast and NBCUniversal becoming a more global company."
The $1.5 billion purchase of 51 percent of the theme park is part of the company's shift of focus to Asia, where theme parks are popular and profitable. The news comes months after Comcast's $45.2 billion bid to purchase Time Warner Cable was rejected in April.
More than 12 million people visited the Osaka theme park in the past financial year, and last year Comcast's Universal Parks and Resorts subsidiary announced a theme park would be built in Beijing and will open in 2019. The $3.1 billion investment was jointly funded and owned by Universal and the Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Company.
Comcast NBCUniversal also owns theme parks in Los Angeles and Orlando, Fla., and has a licensing agreement with a park in Singapore.
Competitors have rushed to include the Asian market for theme parks in their plans. Walt Disney Company is scheduled to open a park in Shanghai in 2016, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. plans construction of multiple parks and Chinese real estate company Dalian Wanda Group Co. is expected to build more than a dozen parks.