Media

Comcast to buy GE’s stake of NBC Universal for $16.7B

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Giant media company and TV/Internet service provider Comcast has decided it wants to own all of NBC Universal, offering minority shareholder GE a huge bag of cash.

Today Comcast announced that it intends to offer GE $16.7 billion for its 49 percent stake in the company, which will give Comcast complete ownership NBC Universal. Additionally, Comcast made a $1.4 billion offer to buy other properties operated by NBC at its New York City and New Jersey offices. (Basically, these would be the news organization.)

Federal regulators approved Comcast’s initial purchase of a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal back in December 2010, but not without some stipulations to ensure healthy competition. Among the most notable of these is the stipulation that Comcast has no say regarding business decisions of Hulu, which it actually owns a portion of.

But this doesn’t mean the latest transaction between Comcast and GE is a done deal. The Federal Communications Commission and other governmental bodies may weigh in before the purchase gains full approval.

Comcast is currently the largest cable TV and broadband Internet service provider in the country. With the outright purchase of NBC Universal, many may worry that cable and Internet rates will go up and outside services (like Netflix) will suffer now that it has some extra leeway over the content that the TV Network/movie studio owns. However, since Comcast already has the majority stake in NBC Universal, I doubt this will cause many drastic changes.

Full release pasted below:

Comcast Corporation announced today it will acquire GE’s entire 49% common equity stake in the NBCUniversal joint venture for approximately $16.7 billion. Also, NBCUniversal will purchase from GE the properties used by NBCUniversal at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and CNBC’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ for approximately $1.4 billion. The acquisition accelerates GE’s divestiture ahead of a redemption period that would have begun in July 2014 and solidifies Comcast’s position as a leading media and technology company. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of this year.

“This is an exciting day for Comcast as we have agreed to accelerate the purchase of NBCUniversal. The management team at GE has been a wonderful partner during the past two years and their support has been very valuable. Our decision to acquire GE’s ownership is driven by our sense of optimism for the future prospects of NBCUniversal and our desire to capture future value that we hope to create for our shareholders,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation. “We believe the terms of the transaction are attractive and have planned for this event by taking a number of financial steps to prepare our balance sheet. We believe we are in a strong and unique position to continue to grow and build value in our combined company.”

The transactions will be funded with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4.0 billion of subsidiary senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2.0 billion of borrowings under Comcast and/or subsidiary bank credit facilities and $725 million of subsidiary preferred stock to be issued to GE.

Morgan Stanley was financial advisor to Comcast and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP was the Company’s legal advisor.