Vivendi nearing sale of stake in NBC Universal

It appears that General Electric is one step closer to getting out of the entertainment business as the conglomerate is in talks with Vivendi SA to determine what European company should get for its stake in NBC Universal. As reported in the Wall Street Journal today, Vivendi's stake could be the linchpin to help facilitate a potential bid by Comcast to acquire NBC Universal. Right now, GE owns 80 percent of NBC Universal, while Vivendi owns 20 percent.

Although Comcast continues to deny the rumors that it will buy NBC Universal, sources close to the matter say that Comcast would like to merge its cable networks with NBC Universal for a 51 percent stake in the large company. From there, NBC would borrow money to give to GE, which in turn would pay Vivendi for the 20 percent piece it owns of NBC Universal. Finally, if a deal were to go through GE would still own a 49 percent stake in the company. While Vivendi has reportedly said that it wants to sell its 20 percent piece in NBC Universal in 2009, it won't do it for less than book value, which was about $6.3 billion as of June 30.  

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this article

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