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NBC Takes Universal

After months of negotiations and speculation, NBC emerged victorious in the bidding for Vivendi Universal last Tuesday, placing it in the ranks of Disney-sized media conglomerates. NBC gains the USA Networks -- USA, SCI FI, and others -- theme parks, and Universal Studios. Early estimates put the value of the combined companies at about $40 billion.

Terms of the deal give NBC's corporate parent, General Electric, 80 percent of the combined companies. Vivendi will keep 20 percent, plus Viviendi Universal Entertainment shareholders will receive a $3.8 billion "cash consideration." GE also retains an option to buy out Vivendi's 20 percent as of 2008. NBC indicated it expects the merger to be complete by the end of the month. Bob Wright, vice chairman of GE, will lead the combined company.