Comcast’s quest to own a controlling interest in NBC Universal cleared another hurdle tonight. Multiple outlets are reporting General Electric has reached an agreement to buy the 20% of NBCU it doesn’t already own.
Under terms of the deal, G.E. will buy Vivendi’s 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for about $5.8 billion. It removes one of the few remaining hurdles in its plan to sell control of the television and movie company to Comcast in a $30 billion agreement that reflects the changing landscape of broadcast television.
GE, which owns 80% of NBC Universal, reached an agreement after its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, held face-to-face negotiations in Paris with Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy last week, the people said. The two sides reached a verbal agreement on the major deal elements over the weekend and were documenting the final details Monday, said these people.
That would pave the way for GE to sell a 51 percent stake in the TV and movie company to Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable TV provider. That deal, which would make Philadelphia-based Comcast one of the nation’s largest entertainment companies, is valued at about $30 billion.
“It worked out a little higher than what I had anticipated,” said Tuna Amobi, a New York-based analyst at Standard & Poor’s who covers the entertainment industry. “Vivendi was able to squeeze out-an additional $250 million.” GE also agreed to pay Paris-based Vivendi as much as $2 billion if the separate GE-Comcast transaction doesn’t close by the end of 2010, said one of the people.