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July 24, 2014

Comcast, NBC Deal Made Official

by Rebecca Paiement, posted Dec 3rd 2009 12:11PM
It's official.

The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning that Comcast has shaken hands with General Electric, giving the giant cable company 51 percent of NBC Universal and Comcast's content assets.

Though the agreement was initially discussed in 2003, when NBC Uni had a higher value, the company is currently said to be worth $30 billion, with its recent acquisitions of Oxygen and iVillage.com, among others. Comcast, of course, brings along networks like E!, the Golf Channel and other sporting networks, valued at $7.25 billion. The final figure paid to GE will depend on what happens in talks between now and the close of the deal, but it is rumored to be about $6.5 billion. This will have Comcast exceeding the revenue assets of Walt Disney, Time Warner and News Corp.It's official.

The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning that Comcast has shaken hands with General Electric, giving the giant cable company 51 percent of NBC Universal and Comcast's content assets.

Though the agreement was initially discussed in 2003, when NBC Uni had a higher value, the company is currently said to be worth $30 billion, with its recent acquisitions of Oxygen and iVillage.com, among others. Comcast, of course, brings along networks like E!, the Golf Channel and other sporting networks, valued at $7.25 billion. The final figure paid to GE will depend on what happens in talks between now and the close of the deal, but it is rumored to be about $6.5 billion. This will have Comcast exceeding the revenue assets of Walt Disney, Time Warner and News Corp.

No board members have been named yet but the joint venture will include three Comcast directors and two from GE. Jeff Zucker, current President and CEO of NBC Universal, will be in charge of operations, reporting to Comcast COO Steve Burke, a former Disney exec. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts heads the pack.

GE will soon enter into a two-stage process, in which it will sell off just under half its stake, at a 20 percent premium to the public market value. Comcast will also obtain the rights to purchase a certain number of these interests.

Meanwhile, French telecom company Vivendi currently holds a 20 percent stake in the entertainment company but has agreed to sell their share to GE for $5.8 billion. Vivendi will get the first $2 billion payment in Sept. and the rest when the transition closes soon thereafter.

In a public letter, Comcast executive VP David Cohen said that this new company will "better serve the interests of many key segments of the viewing audience, including local viewers in the markets served by NBCU's owned-and-operated stations, and the particular interests of Hispanics, African Americans, children and families and other key audience segments. The combination also permits us to hasten the arrival of multiplatform, anytime, anywhere future that Americans want."

Others call the deal a "perfect fit." "It will accelerate the development of new digital products and services," said Roberts, adding that limited cash outlays will allow the company to return capital to its shareholders.

GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt spoke of the expected $8 billion cash at closing. "GE gets a good value for NBCU," he said. "NBC U has been a great business for GE over the past two decades."

Zucker is simply "genuinely excited," he said, at "the start of a new era for NBCU ... at this important time in our history."

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