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Comcast To Buy Out GE Partnership For $16.7 Billion

Deal Will Give Comcast 100% of NBC Universal 2/12/2013 11:48 AM Eastern

Comcast said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy out General Electric Co.’s 49% interest in the NBCUniversal joint venture for $16.7 billion, giving the cable giant full control of the programming unit.

Comcast had been scheduled to buy the NBCU stake from GE in July 2014.

In addition, Comcast said NBCUniversal will purchase from GE the properties used by the programmer at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan and CNBC’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. for approximately $1.4 billion.

“This is an exciting day for Comcast as we have agreed to accelerate the purchase of NBCUniversal,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “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.” “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's early purchase of the balance of NBCU will not require any further government review since the FCC has already approved Comcast as owner of NBCU and the deal involves no further change of control.

When DOJ found no antitrust issues and the FCC approved the deal on public interest grounds--with various conditions--both did so on the expectation that Comcast would ultimately own all of the company. "We evaluate this transaction as if Comcast will obtain all the profits generated by any exclusionary strategy by Comcast-NBCUniversal because Comcast is acquiring the right to acquire sole ownership from GE and may exercise that right without further Commission approval," the FCC said at the time. DOJ's impact statement said it did so "expect[ing] Comcast ultimately will own 100% of the [joint venture]."

The transactions will be funded with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4.0 billion of subsidiary senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2.0 billion of borrowings under Comcast and/or subsidiary bank credit facilities and $725 million of subsidiary preferred stock to be issued to GE.

Morgan Stanley was financial advisor to Comcast and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP was the Company’s legal advisor.

September