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Cable Technology Feature Article

February 12, 2013

Comcast to Become the Full Owner of NBCUniversal, Buys GE's Stake for $16.7 Billion

By Rachel Ramsey, TMCnet Web Editor

Comcast (News - Alert) bought General Electric's 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal joint venture for $16.7 billion, making the cable firm the full owner of the media and entertainment company. The purchase, expected to close by the end of the quarter pending regulatory approval, is also alongside Comcast buying remaining NBCUniversal properties, including 30 Rockefeller Plaza and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J for $1.4 billion.

Comcast and GE were expected to operate NBCUniversal as a joint venture until at least mid-2014 and Comcast could have continued the joint-venture structure through 2018.

"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, in a statement. "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."

Comcast originally bought its 51 percent stake in NBC Universal (News - Alert) in December 2009 for $6.5 billion in cash. The transaction makes Comcast, the biggest cable provider in the United states, one of the biggest owners of cable channels. NBCUniversal owns several news and entertainment brands, including NBC, CNBC, Universal Pictures, Telemundo, USA Network and Universal Parks and Resorts.

“We didn’t have to do it; GE didn’t have to sell now,” Roberts noted in an interview on CNBC on Tuesday. “But we came to an understanding that I think works out well for everybody. They get a lot of cash … and our shareholders have 100 percent of the upside here.”

Comcast’s Comcast Ventures is also leading an $11 million Series C funding round for FanDuel, a fantasy sports platform. More than 35 million players in the U.S. and Canada spend a total of about $3.1 billion per year in a mix of league, transaction and hosting fees, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. During this past NFL season, FanDuel was paying out approximately $2 million per week and daily games are experiencing more than 250,000 line-up entries per week, FanDuel said, for a total of six million daily lineups.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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