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Comcast's NBC Universal takeover becomes official tonight

Comcast's NBC Universal takeover becomes official tonight
Richard Lawler
Richard Lawler|@Rjcc|January 28, 2011 6:26 PM
By the stroke of midnight tonight, it will be officially done, Comcast will have taken control of NBC Universal, paying general electric $6.5 billion and tossing its own cable channels into the new NBCUniversal joint venture. It's been a long ride, from the first rumor, to an agreement, to a review period by the government that stretched over all of last year. Just a few months ago it was tough to imagine Versus and Syfy sharing a home and yet, here we are. Here's a quick recap of some of the milestones along the way, although exactly how this will impact the future of video via broadcast, cable and internet remains to be seen.

Update: It's done, the official press release follows after the break.

10/1/09 - Comcast denies possible purchase of NBC, claims it can only offer a window
12/1/09 - Comcast deal to buy NBC is done, will be announced Thursday
12/3/09 - Comcast takes control of NBC, promises not to crush Hulu
03/12/10 - NBC-Comcast deal comes under Justice Department, FCC scrutiny
12/25/10 - FCC proposes rules for NBC-Comcast deal
01/18/11 - FCC approves Comcast's purchase of NBC (Update: Justice Department too, it's done)

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Comcast and GE Complete Transaction to Form NBCUniversal, LLC


Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) yesterday closed their transaction to create a joint venture, NBCUniversal, LLC. Under the terms of the transaction, GE contributed to the joint venture NBC Universal, Inc.'s businesses, including its cable networks, filmed entertainment, televised entertainment, theme parks, and unconsolidated investments. Comcast contributed its cable networks, including E!, Versus and the Golf Channel, its regional sports networks, certain digital media properties, and made a payment to GE. The new company is 51 percent owned by Comcast, 49 percent owned by GE, and managed by Comcast. It maintains its headquarters in New York City.

Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian L. Roberts said, "This transaction brings together the rich traditions of some of the world's most well known and respected entertainment, news and sports brands at NBCUniversal with the technology and consumer reach of Comcast, creating the ideal entertainment and distribution company. We are very appreciative of all of the hard work that Jeff Immelt and his team at GE put into this transaction over the past year and are thrilled to have the highly talented team at NBCUniversal be a part of the Comcast family."

GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, "NBCU has been a great business for GE over the past 20 years, generating an average annual return of 11 percent. Reducing our ownership stake to 49 percent allows GE to continue sharing in NBCU's growth while also providing significant cash to invest in our high-technology infrastructure businesses. I want to express GE's and my special thanks to the talented and dedicated employees of NBCU who have built a world-renowned business and are its heart and soul. We are excited by the growth opportunities ahead for NBCUniversal under Brian Roberts, Steve Burke and the Comcast team's leadership."

Morgan Stanley served as lead financial advisor to Comcast with UBS and BofA Merrill Lynch acting as co-advisors. Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as Comcast's legal advisors. J.P. Morgan was lead financial advisor to GE with Goldman Sachs and Citi acting as co-advisors. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP was GE's and NBCUniversal's legal advisor.

About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.

About GE
GE (NYSE: GE) is a diversified infrastructure, finance and media company taking on the world's toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, health care solutions and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com.