Comcast-NBC Uni deal details emerge

Partnership valued at higher-than-expected $37.25 billion

The deal set to be unveiled Thursday that merges Comcast content assets with NBC Universal will value the partnership at a higher-than-expected $37.25 billion and sets the table for GE to shed its media stake entirely in about eight years.

The Financial Times Web site reported Wednesday that, as expected, Vivendi will likely get $5.8 billion for its 20% stake in NBC Uni from GE, suggesting NBC Uni, in its current form, is worth $29 billion.

Meanwhile, the new Comcast-controlled NBC Uni that will emerge gets its $37.25 billion valuation, according to the FT, in a number of ways, including by assigning a hefty $7.25 billion worth to Comcast's own cable channels -- the big one is E! Entertainment -- that will become part of the combo.

The FT also reported that Comcast will give GE up to $7 billion in cash, depending on how NBC Uni performs between now and when the deal closes, though as late as Wednesday night, Comcast insiders told THR that the cable giant was balking at paying anything more than $6 billion.

Unless there's an eleventh-hour glitch, Comcast will end up with 51% of the revamped NBC Uni, GE will retain 49% and Vivendi will be out entirely. The deal also stipulates that GE may sell its stake in two stages, according to the FT, the first one coming 3 1/2 years after the transaction closes and the second 3 1/2 years after that.

Federal regulators are expected to ruminate for about a year before approving the deal. Taking much longer than that could derail the whole thing, according to the FT, because Vivendi has the right -- if no deal is greenlighted by government regulators -- to sell GE an undisclosed portion of its 20% stake in the current NBC Uni for $2 billion at the end of next year and sell the rest over time.

The FT said that the parties involved are not required to pay a break-fee should the deal not close.
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