Comcast finalizes deal for NBCUniversal media giant


AFP

NEW YORK–Comcast Corp. said Saturday it finalized a deal for control of NBCUniversal, creating a media and entertainment empire that rivals that of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction brings together the rich traditions of some of the world’s most well known and respected entertainment, news and sports brands at NBCUniversal with the technology and consumer reach of Comcast, creating the ideal entertainment and distribution company,” said Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts. The deal gives cable giant Comcast a controlling 51-percent stake in the media-entertainment powerhouse, while U.S. conglomerate General Electric retains 49 percent. Comcast is the largest cable television operator and high-speed Internet provider in the United States while NBCUniversal has a vast array of news, movie and television properties. The deal was announced in December 2009 with the transaction valued at US$30 billion at the time. French group Vivendi said Wednesday that it had sold its remaining 12.34-percent stake in NBCU to General Electric for US$3.8 billion. NBCUniversal comprises NBC — the oldest of the four major U.S. broadcast networks — financial news channel CNBC, news channel MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Bravo and the Spanish-language Telemundo. It also includes one of Hollywood’s most storied film studios, Universal Pictures, and theme parks in the United States and Japan. “NBCU has been a great business for GE over the past 20 years, generating an average annual return of 11 percent,” said GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. Besides being the largest U.S. Internet service provider, Comcast already owns several television channels including the Style Network, the Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company is active on the Web with Fancast.com, an online video portal, movie ticketing service Fandango and online address book and social network Plaxo. The Federal Communications Commission approved the acquisition while the Justice Department’s anti-trust division announced a settlement that would allow it to go ahead with several conditions to address concerns on the merging of a major content firm with the cable and Internet delivery giant.