Comcast Homes In On NBCU


Comcast and General Electric Co. are nearing the finish line regarding their joint venture with GE's NBC Universal, and the two sides hope to make an announcement Thursday morning, according to sources familiar with the deal, confirming an earlier report by CNBC.
"It's pretty much done," said an executive familiar with the negotiations.
According to several reports Tuesday morning, GE cleared the biggest hurdle to the deal - agreeing with French conglomerate Vivendi S.A. on a price for its 20% stake in NBCU. Vivendi agreed on a $5.8 billion price tag for its stake and a $2 billion payout if the deal is not closed by the end of 2010.
CNBC said late Tuesday that both sides were waiting for Vivendi to sign their agreement to sell their 20% interest to GE.
According to sources familiar with the transaction, the deal terms won't deviate much from what has already been in the media for months -- Comcast would contribute about $6 billion in cash, $9 billion in debt and contribute its cable networks (E!, Style, the Golf Channel, Versus, several regional sports channels and G4) to a joint venture including NBCU's assets. Comcast would control 51% of the JV, with GE getting the remaining 49%. Comcast would have the option of buying out the GE interest after seven years. The joint venture has been valued at about $30 billion by both parties.

The deal would create a powerhouse of content and distribution, with the NBC broadcast network, cable channels USA Networks, Bravo, Syfy, CNBC, and Telemundo and the Universal Pictures movie studio, joining forces with Comcast's cable properties and its 24 million cable subscribers.

While the deal has taken months to reach this point, the real waiting could just be beginning. Analysts expect the deal to take as much as a year to pass regulatory muster.