Japanese electronics giant Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is expected to announce today a $7 billion buyout of MCA Inc., the owner of Universal Pictures.

Negotiators for both sides met into the early hours of today and appeared to have reached agreement after more than two months of talks. Final approval by the boards of both companies had not been given early this morning but sources said the agreement will be signed later today.

Financial details of the accord were sketchy but one person familiar with the negotiations said Matsushita's acquistion would total slightly more than $7 billion, including MCA's debt and the value of MCA's New York television station WWOR. The final sale price would be mainly in cash but would include some stock as well. The stock would cover the value of WWOR, which would be spun off to MCA shareholders in a separate deal in order to satisfy federal regulations prohibiting a foreign company from owning more than 20 percent of a U.S. broadcast station.

Matsushita is best known for the consumer audio and video products it produces under the Panasonic, Quasar and Technics brand names.

With the agreement, Matsushita, the world's largest consumer-electronics firm, would become the fourth foreign-based company -- and the second from Japan -- to buy a major Hollywood studio. Tokyo-based Sony Corp. purchased Columbia Pictures in October of last year. And Pathe Communications, which is controlled by the Italian financier Giancarlo Perretti, bought MGM-UA Communications Corp. earlier this month. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., based in Australia, bought 20th Century Fox in 1985.

Among Hollywood's seven major studios, only Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. remain under the control of companies based in the United States.

In addition to Universal Pictures, the studio that produced "Jaws" and "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial," MCA owns one of the largest troves of entertainment properties in the world. Its holdings range from television production ("Major Dad" and "Murder, She Wrote") to the two Universal Studios theme parks, to Motown Records and the concession business at Yosemite National Park. It also owns 49 percent of Cineplex Odeon Corp..

"I expect an agreement {this} morning," said one executive. "There isn't anyone trying to slow this down."

Like Sony, Matsushita is said by analysts to be anxious to couple its audio and video "hardware" -- videocassette recorders, compact disc players and eventually high-definition television sets -- with the movies and music "software" produced by MCA. Despite rolling up profits of $1.4 billion in its last fiscal year, Matsushita's consumer-electronics business is growing slowly and profit margins are thin in the highly competitive business. MCA Chairman Lew R. Wasserman, who holds 5 million shares and controls another 6 million of the company's 92 million shares outstanding, reportedly had been holding out for a price of not less than $75 a share, or at least $6.9 billion.

The 78-year-old Wasserman, a former talent agent who represented Ronald Reagan during his acting career, would receive cash and stock worth a total of $825 million at the expected sale price of around $75 per share.

Matsushita is more than 10 times MCA's size in sales and profit. In addition to consumer electronics, it is an industrial powerhouse that manufactures semiconductors, computer workstations and telecommunications equipment and has more than 100 subsidiaries in 37 countries. Its worldwide sales last year were $37.8 billion.

Correspondent Paul Blustein contributed to this report from Tokyo.