Business development

Comcast purchases majority stake in NBC Universal, awaiting regulatory approval

“This deal is a perfect fit for Comcast," said CEO Brian Roberts in a statement.

Could it be?

One of the world’s largest corporations this morning officially announced its intentions to sell one of the most storied media brands to the country’s biggest cable-TV and broadband-Internet company.
General Electric‘s $30 billion sale of a 51 percent majority stake in NBC Universal to Center City-based Comcast comes after months of highly-publicized talks. The NBC acquisition will make Comcast the largest media company in the country, with $51 billion in annual revenue and more than $100 billion in assets, as the Inquirer reports, topping Walt Disney Co.
“This deal is a perfect fit for Comcast and will allow us to become a leader in the development and distribution of multiplatform “anytime, anywhere” media that American consumers are demanding,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement this morning.
Today’s announcement, which was widely expected, doesn’t mean the deal is done.

Industry dialogue has quickly moved to focus on the tangle that federal regulators now face, which was long predicted. Government oversight will likely be a ‘gauntlet’ and may take as long as a year, some say, as regulators try to foresee just what the impact might be of this acquisition, already threatened with “all-out combat” by some public interest advocates.
In hopes of easing a drawn-out federal regulatory review, the Washington Post reports that the deal includes concessions like agreeing to preserve local news coverage and granting competitors access to content.
Comcast and G.E. had reportedly agreed to terms in the middle of November but were at the whim of French telecom Vivendi, which owned a 20 percent stake in NBC and held a veto over any acquisition. When G.E. purchased Vivendi’s share for a reported $5.8 billion this weekend, the stage was set.
Past mergers on comparable scale have largely failed, but most suggest the move by Comcast is a hedge against the decline in cable TV.
No major changes are expected immediately to NBC leadership and the venture will remain headquartered in New York. The Associated Press reports that the sale may be a dramatic sign that G.E. is returning to its manufacturing roots.
The joint venture between Comcast and G.E., which would return the remaining 49 percent stake in NBC for the foreseeable future, unveiled a Web site focused on the transition.

Companies: Comcast / General Electric / Vivendi

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