Comcast close to NBC stake

By Julian Clover
November 9, 2009 10.36 UK

Comcast could be as little as a week away from the purchase of a controlling stake in NBC Universal from General Electric. The US cablenet is set to acquire a 51% stake to create a $30 billion (€21.55 bn) joint venture that would combine its cable channels with America’s oldest broadcast network.

Although talks are said to be at an advanced stage a successful conclusion could yet hinge on whether Vivendi is willing to sell its 20% stake in NBC Universal back to GE. Vivendi must decide annually within in a four week period between November and December as to whether it want to continue its participation.

The NBC Universal channels business has steadily grown its international footprint. Having acquired the rights to the Hallmark brand in Europe, following the £174 million purchase of Sparrowhawk in 2007, the rebranded Universal Networks has gone on to build a portfolio that also includes Universal Channel, 13th Street Universal, Syfy Universal (the former Sci Fi), Diva Universal and Studio Universal.

Comcast also holds international interests running local versions of E! Entertainment and Style Network.