GE to Decide NBC Universal’s Fate After Beijing Olympics

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And now we have some more context with which to view the surprising turn of events in which NBC Universal purchased Oxygen. As recently as February of this year, Jeff Immelt denied that he had plans to sell NBC Universal, GE’s entertainment unit.

Now Immelt says he won’t make a decision about selling the $40 billion unit until after the lucrative 2008 Beijing Olympics. Further, FT reports that Vivendi, the other shareholder, is not a potential buyer or long-term shareholder. Hmm. This curious decision gives Jeff Zucker — whom many have questioned as “falling upward” — a very fixed time period in which to convince the suits that NBC Universal should remain under the GE aegis. From now on, Jeff Zucker is hyper-accountable to the suits and to his network for his decisions (It didn’t always seem that way, quite frankly). From The Financial Times:

”The Olympics are expected to provide NBC, which owns the US TV rights to the event, with a windfall in extra advertising revenues as well as a chance to display its technological and journalistic prowess. The games also allow GE to boost sales of its aviation, medical technology and other businesses in China. GE is forecasting $500m in extra sales from Olympics-related contracts, excluding NBC.

”A year ago, NBC announced a broad restructuring aimed at generating $700m in cost savings. Jeff Zucker, who was named chief executive of the business in February, has been trying to convince investors to look beyond its broadcast TV heritage to growth opportunities overseas and in its expanding portfolio of cable networks.”

On the plus side, all this corporate drama presents a fertile ground from which Tina Fey’s comedic mind can flower brilliantly.

(image via johnabbottphoto)