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Comcast's NBCUniversal to Sell Stake in A&E Television Networks

A&E Logo - H 2012

Joint venture partners Walt Disney and Hearst will acquire the holding, which analysts have valued at around $2 billion.

NBCUniversal has exercised an option to sell "a substantial portion" of its 15.8 percent stake in A&E Television Networks, the parent company of such cable channels as A&E, Lifetime and History, to joint venture partners Walt Disney and Hearst Corp.

The entertainment arm of Comcast  informed its partners in late March, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal cited an analyst who valued NBCUniversal's stake at around $2 billion. Other analysts have in the past also valued it in that range. The companies are currently negotiating the exact size of the stake to be sold, which will affect the final price tag, with a deal likely to close in the second half of the year, according to the regulatory filing.

NBCUniversal's stake in A&E TV Networks, led by CEO Abbe Raven, used to amount to 25 percent. In 2009, Hearst and Disney added their Lifetime venture into the mix, boosting their A&E stakes to about 42.1 percent each. Back then, NBCUniversal got its option to cash out given the company's reduced stake, which made it a non-core asset.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai