Vivendi’s Plans Will Affect Comcast’s Chances at NBCU

By Andrew Gauthier 

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The Los Angeles Times

It may own a mere 20% of NBC Universal, but Vivendi is calling the shots when it comes to whether the fabled movie studio and television company will end up in the hands of cable company Comcast Corp. or some other buyer.

That’s because every year in November, Vivendi can opt to sell its stake.

There’s also a little-known clause in the contract between Vivendi and General Electric Co., which owns 80% of NBC Universal, that gives the French media conglomerate veto power on any change in control.

Whether Vivendi decides to pull the trigger depends on a host of complicated factors, including the strength of the U.S. dollar and Vivendi’s appetite to make bold bets.

Vivendi probably would use the proceeds from the sale of its NBC Universal stake — valued at $5 billion to $7 billion — to finance acquisitions in video games and telecommunications, where it already is a major player. More…