ANGELES, May 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Panasonic Disc Services Corporation (PDSC), a subsidiary
of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and Universal Music & Video Distribution,
a division of Universal Music Group, today announced the formation of a joint venture
company to manufacture DVD optical discs and music CDs in North America.
The joint venture company, Matsushita Universal Media Services of
LLC of America , will install major DVD production capabilities within Universal Music
Group's existing CD manufacturing facility in Pinckneyville, Illinois. The facility is
strategically located near Panasonic's major customers' DVD disc distribution centers.
Panasonic and Universal expect the new company to begin producing DVD discs this fall. In
addition, the joint venture company will continue to manufacture audio CDs for the
Universal Music Group.
With this new manufacturing operation coming on line,
Panasonic plans to further expand its leadership role in DVD disc manufacturing by
doubling its existing U.S. DVD production capacity from the current 2.5 million units per
month to 5 million units per month by the end of 1999.
The Los Angeles-based DVD Video Group estimates that first
quarter 1999 DVD disc sales for the entire industry were 10 million units and will
continue to grow substantially this year. More than three thousand movie titles have been
released on DVD to date, and it is expected that the format growth will further increase
with the introduction of DVD-Audio this year.
The joint venture builds upon Universal's close
relationship with Panasonic's parent company, Matsushita Electric, which is a strategic
partner and minority shareholder in Universal Studios, Inc.
"In the United States, the DVD business is growing
rapidly with player sales passing the two-million-unit mark this spring," said Bob
Pfannkuch, president of PDSC. "By combining Matsushita's strengths in technology and
Universal's strengths in software distribution and CD manufacturing, we believe the joint
venture company will quickly be able to provide world-class DVD manufacturing services to
PDSC's Hollywood studio and other customers."
Bruce Hack, Vice Chairman of the Universal Music Group,
added, "We are delighted to expand our wonderful relationship with Matsushita in another
tangible way -- producing CDs for the U.S. market at lower costs and participating in the
exciting growth of the new DVD format."
Established in 1997 in Torrance, California as the world's
first DVD-only replication facility, Panasonic Disc Services Corporation is a subsidiary
of Osaka, Japan-based Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC; PCX), one of the
world's leading developers and producers of digital electronic products for the home, the
office, and in between. Based in Osaka, Japan, it recorded annual sales of $63.7 billion
in the fiscal year ended March 31, 1999. Best known by its Panasonic brand, Matsushita has
more than 275,000 employees worldwide, with overseas operations that include over 220
companies in 46 countries and regions. For more information, visit
Universal Music Group is the world's leading music company
with wholly-owned record operations or licensees in 59 countries around the world. Its
businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry's largest
global music publishing operations, and Universal Concerts.
Universal Music Group consists of record labels A&M,
Blue Thumb, Decca Record Company, Def Jam, Deutsche Grammophon, Geffen, GRP, Impulse!,
Interscope, Island, MCA, MCA Nashville, Mercury, Mercury Nashville, Motown, Philips,
Polydor, Universal, and Verve as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed
by its record company subsidiaries around the world.
Universal Music Group is a unit of The Seagram Company
Ltd., a global entertainment and spirits and wine company.
SOURCE: Panasonic Disc Services Corporation