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GE to Buy Vivendi’s Piece of NBC

FAIRFIELD, CONN: Shares of General Electric rose today as the company took a step toward divesting NBC Universal. Vivendi today said it agreed to sell its 20 percent piece of NBCU to GE for $5.8 billion, wire reports indicate. Speculation that GE is preparing to sell NBCU to Comcast has been circulating for nearly a month. Securing Vivendi’s minority stake will allow GE to sell 100 percent of the company, which includes the Peacock network, Universal Studios and cable nets that include CNBC, Bravo and the Weather Channel. Analysts have valued NBCU at around $30 billion.

A deal in which Comcast takes a 51 percent stake could be announced as soon as Thursday, The Guardian reports. It would have to pass muster, however, with federal regulators who will likely hear objections from anti-media consolidation camps. Should Comcast take NBCU, it would mark the first time a cable company--this one being the largest in the United States--would own a major broadcast network.

Shares of GE (NYSE: GE) reached more than $16.25 in today’s trading after hovering at and below $16 for several days. The wider market also saw a surge today on better-than-expected data for pending home sales and construction.