Comcast has announced plans to purchase General Electric Co.’s stake in NBC Universal for $16.7 billion. The buyout will give Comcast complete control over the entire brand including the NBC network, Universal Pictures film studio, Universal Studios theme parks and three cable channels: Bravo, MSNBC and USA Network.
The Philadelphia-based cable provider acquired a controlling 51 percent stake in the company two years ago which left GE with 49 percent ownership. At the time, Comcast was given the option to purchase more interest in NBC Universal starting in July 2014. One has to assume that the cable operator is happy with how the initial purchase is going seeing as they decided to jump the gun to buy the rest of the company.
GE has owned the media outlet since 1986 but things weren’t always smooth sailing. As the LA Times points out, GE was criticized for trying to install a business model that worked well for building aircraft engines and windmills. That same model didn’t fit well in the volatile television and movie industries.
Things got better when GE acquired Vivendi Universal, a move that helped strengthen the media company by diversifying revenue streams. GE's fortunes took another turn for the worse a few years ago when the economy went south which ultimately forced GE to sell the asset at an extremely low price.
Comcast is using roughly $11.4 billion in cash, $4 billion in senior unsecured notes and will borrow the remainder of the balance to make the purchase. We are told that the sale should be finalized by the end of next month.