US telco and cable operator Comcast has struck a deal to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric (GE). The transaction creates a media superpower that control not just how TV shows and movies are made, but also how they are delivered to US homes.
The deal has been discussed for months and brought to light deep divisions within the media business over its future, with some lauding Comcast CEO Brian Roberts as a visionary and others calling it the most foolhardy acquisition since AOL bought Time Warner in 2001.
Under the terms of the deal, Comcast, the largest US cable service provider, will contribute US $6.5 billion in cash and its own cable TV networks to take a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal, which owns TV networks, a movie studio, theme parks and local TV stations. GE will retain a 49 percent stake.
The two sides said in a release on Thursday that the deal valued NBC Universal businesses at $30 billion. They valued the Comcast businesses that will be part of the deal at $7.25 billion.
GE cleared the way for the deal by getting Vivendi’s agreement to sell its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for $5.8 billion.
In 2004 Comcast launched an unsolicited and ultimately unsuccessful, $54 billion bid for Disney.