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GE, Comcast agree to create mega media, entertainment company

GE and Comcast said yesterday they have signed a definitive agreement to create a joint venture that combines NBCU’s broadcast, cable and other entertainment businesses with Comcast’s cable networks, regional sports networks and digital properties and gives Comcast control over the new business.

The joint venture gives Comcast a 51 percent stake in the new company, while GE retains 49 percent ownership. Under the agreement, GE will contribute NBCU’s businesses, including its cable networks, filmed entertainment, TV entertainment, theme parks and other investments, valued at $30 billion subject to about $9 billion in debt, and Comcast will contribute its 10 regional sports networks and cable networks E!, Versus and the Golf Channel, as well as other digital properties, valued in total at $7.25 billion.

As part of the transaction, GE will buy Vivendi’s 20 percent interest in NBCU for $5.8 billion — 38 percent of its interest in September 2010 for about $2 billion if the joint venture deal with Comcast is not closed by then. It will purchase the remaining Vivendi stake for $3.8 billion when the deal closes.

Current NBCU CEO and President Jeff Zucker will remain at the helm of a new joint venture and will report to Comcast CEO Steve Burke.

The boards of directors of both companies have approved the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval.