Prepare for a new player to enter the television and movie arena, as Vivendi and General Electric have finally reached a deal that will see the French company selling its share in NBC-Unversal, paving the way for a Comcast buyout.
Long-rumored, GE reached a final agreement to purchase Vivendi's 20% of the company late yesterday. The deal is yet to be formalized, but is said to be worth $5.8 billion, giving GE total ownership of the media giant that will, in turn, allow them to sell a controlling interest of 51% to cable company Comcast with a view to gradually phase out all ownership over eight years. That deal is rumored to be possible within the next two weeks (although, as the LA Times points out, anti-trust regulation and oversight could last over a year before the deal takes effect).
Comcast has been in negotiations to buy NBC-Uni for over six months, and last month both Comcast and GE reached an agreement on a value of approximately $30 billion for the company. It's believed that Comcast's main interest in the company isn't ailing broadcast network NBC, nor movie studio Universal or the companies' theme parks, but its cable channels, which include USA Network and Syfy, and offer a reach of around 45 million customers.
Comcast's takeover of NBC-Universal bucks a trend for companies spinning multiple interests into multiple smaller companies (See Time-Warner's divesting itself of its cable division earlier this year and about to do the same to AOL), but it fulfills the company's long-held desire to become high-level content providers; the company made a (failed) takeover bid for Disney in 2004. Now that it looks certain that their corporate dream is about to come true, the next question is what they're going to do with all of their new toys.
GE buys out Vivendi stake in NBC Uni [Hollywood Reporter]