Comcast buys remaining NBCU stake for $18.1 bn

Comcast Corp. agreed Tuesday to buy the remaining 49 percent stake in media and entertainment giant NBCUniversal from its joint venture partner General Electric for $18.1 billion.

"This is an exciting day for Comcast as we have agreed to accelerate the purchase of NBCUniversal," Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said as the two firms announced the deal ending the joint venture created two years ago.

The deal gives Comcast full control of the NBC broadcast empire, cable networks, filmed entertainment, theme parks, regional sports networks and certain digital media properties.

The deal calls for $16.7 million for the NBCU brand assets and another $1.4 billion for NBC's interest in the 30 Rockefeller Center office buildings in midtown New York City and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

The companies finalized the joint venture in January 2011, reducing GE's holding in NBCU to 49 percent from 80 percent and making Comcast the majority partner.

GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said the deal "allows us to significantly increase the cash we plan to return to shareholders in 2013, to approximately $18 billion, and to continue to invest in our industrial business."

"For nearly 30 years, NBC -- and later NBCUniversal -- has been a great business for GE and our investors. We are proud of our stewardship of the business and our association with the NBCU brand," Immelt added.

NBCUniversal comprises NBC -- the oldest of the four major US 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.

Besides being among the largest US Internet service providers, Comcast owns several television channels, including the Style Network, the Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television.

Comcast said the deal will be funded with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4.0 billion of unsecured notes to be issued to GE, along with borrowings and preferred stock to be issued to GE.

Comcast said separately its full-year revenue increased 12 percent to $62.6 billion in 2012.

The joint venture deal was announced in December 2009 with the transaction valued at $30 billion at the time, and creating a group with the breadth of Walt Disney Co.

French group Vivendi had sold its remaining 12.34 percent stake in NBCU to General Electric for $3.8 billion at the time to allow the deal to proceed.

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