Mon, Jan 31, 2011 - Page 10 News List

NBC Universal deal finalized

AFP, NEW YORK

Comcast Corp said on Saturday it finalized a deal for control of NBC Universal, creating a media and entertainment empire that rivals that of the Walt Disney Co.

“This transaction brings together the rich traditions of some of the world’s most well known and respected entertainment, news and sports brands at NBC Universal with the technology and consumer reach of Comcast, creating the ideal entertainment and distribution company,” Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts said.

The deal gives cable giant Comcast a controlling 51 percent stake in the media-entertainment powerhouse, while US conglomerate General Electric retains 49 percent.

Comcast is the largest cable television operator and high-speed Internet provider in the US, while NBC Universal has a vast array of news, movie and television properties.

The deal was announced in December 2009 with the transaction valued at US$30 billion at the time.

French group Vivendi said on Wednesday that it had sold its remaining 12.34 percent stake in NBC Universal to General Electric for US$3.8 billion.

NBC Universal comprises NBC — the oldest of the four major US broadcast networks — financial news channel CNBC, news channel MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Bravo and the Spanish-language Telemundo.

It also includes one of Hollywood’s most storied film studios, Universal Pictures, and theme parks in the US and Japan.

“NBCU [NBC Universal] has been a great business for GE over the past 20 years, generating an average annual return of 11 percent,” GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said. “Reducing our ownership stake to 49 percent allows GE to continue sharing in NBCU’s growth while also providing significant cash to invest in our high-technology infrastructure businesses.”

Besides being the largest US Internet service provider, Comcast already owns several television channels, including the Style Network, the Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television.

The Philadelphia, -Pennsylvania-based company is active on the Web with Fancast.com, an online video portal, movie ticketing service Fandango and online address book and social network Plaxo.

The US Federal Communications Commission approved the acquisition while the US Department of Justice’s anti-trust division announced a settlement that would allow it to go ahead with several conditions to address concerns on the merging of a major content firm with the cable and Internet delivery giant.

Comcast’s revenue was US$32 billion dollars in 2009 while NBC Universal reported revenue of US$15.4 billion.

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