Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"I'm Outa Here"; Vivendi Agrees to Sell NBC

Money talks and Vivendi walks! GE found the number that Vivendi took to sell its 20% back to GE and opening up round two, a majority stake to Comcast. "Under terms of the deal, G.E. will buy Vivendi’s 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for about $5.8 billion. It removes one of the few remaining hurdles in its plan to sell control of the television and movie company to Comcast in a $30 billion agreement that reflects the changing landscape of broadcast television." But what does it mean for NBC. Is it a good thing having a cable distributor as your owner or is it simply "out of the frying pan and into the fire." Business can take many funny turns.

A potential sale of NBC to Comcast will not be an easy one and will come with many hurdles. Expect FCC scrutiny and perhaps a number of lawsuits from other distributors and programmers weighing in on unfair competition. I suspect that a sale will also result in a dismantling of NBC properties. While the cable nets and movie studio are highly valued by Comcast, it is hard to believe that they want to involve themselves in its other businesses, namely broadcast and theme parks. In order to get this deal approved, promises might have to be made to spin off these businesses into a separately traded company. Comcast gets what they want and NBC Network becomes a standalone company.