Comcast to buy GE's 49% stake in NBCUniversal
Comcast said Tuesday that it will pay $16.7 billion to buy General Electric's remaining 49% stake in their NBCUniversal joint venture, a move that ends GE's long relationship with NBC and further underscores the cable operator's desire to expand content offerings.
Comcast, based in Philadelphia, will pay $11.4 billion in cash, and the rest will be funded with debt and the issuance of stock.
"Our decision to acquire GE's ownership is driven by our sense of optimism for the future prospects of NBCUniversal," says Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement.
The deal, which is expected to close before the end of the first quarter, also calls for Comcast to buy GE's 30 Rockefeller Plaza building and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for about $1.4 billion.
Comcast also reported $15.9 billion in fourth-quarter revenue, up 6% from a year earlier. It posted net income of $1.8 billion, vs. $1.59 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Comcast's eventual takeover of NBCUniversal had been expected since 2009, when it agreed to buy a 51% stake of it from GE. NBCUniversal was valued at $37.5 billion, including Comcast's assets. The deal was finalized in 2011.
The deal enabled Comcast and GE to house their TV networks and other properties under one corporate umbrella, including NBC, USA, Bravo, Syfy, E, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, the Universal Pictures movie studio and Universal theme parks.
GE had sought to divest from the entertainment business to shore up performance in its other divisions, and planned on selling its NBCUniversal stake within seven years of the 2011 deal.
Meanwhile, Comcast was looking to diversify by strengthening its programming content -- particularly, for its lucrative cable TV channels -- in a quest for more advertising revenue.
Vivendi and GE created NBCUniversal in 2004 after the two companies combined their entertainment units, a deal that diluted GE's exposure to the TV business but continued its long-held association with the TV network. To make the 2011 deal work, GE bought a 20% stake in NBCUniversal held by French media conglomerate Vivendi.
The Radio Corp. of America (RCA), which was then owned by GE, created NBC in 1926. General Electric sold RCA in 1930 -- but bought it back, including NBC, in 1986.