Vivendi won't seek sale of NBC Uni stake

Conglomerate would need to notify GE by Friday

Vivendi has decided not to seek a sale of its 20% stake in NBC Universal this year ahead of a deadline Friday, according to sources.

One source familiar with the situation cited market conditions, such as contracted multiples for media and entertainment companies. "It is not the right time to sell," the source said, adding that Vivendi also has been very pleased with NBC Uni's management.

Indeed, Levy has repeatedly praised NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker.

"Jeff Zucker is managing very well through a transition period for NBC Universal," the Vivendi CEO and chairman of the management board recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

The media and telecom conglomerate has an annual option window that ends Friday. During that period, it can trigger a sale by notifying GE, which controls 80% of NBC Uni. The industrial conglomerate in turn can opt to buy those shares or let Vivendi sell up to $4 billion of them in the public market the following year.

"Vivendi has the right to notify GE of its intent to sell in the public market its NBCU shares from Nov. 15 until the Friday of the first full week of December of each year between 2007 and 2016 up to an amount of $4 billion, which could lead to the public offering of a portion of Vivendi's stake the following year," Vivendi's 2007 annual report said in explaining the situation.

Observers had expected Vivendi would retain the stake for now, but Vivendi executives had in recent weeks left their options open. Vivendi declined comment. NBC Uni and GE officials couldn't be reached.
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