Comcast, NBC Universal in reported deal talks

Company reps deem report 'inaccurate'

Cable giant Comcast is reportedly set to make another splashy media acquisition.

A story surfaced on TheWrap Web site late Wednesday suggesting the cable giant was in talks to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric.

Corporate reps for both Comcast and NBC Uni immediately responded that reports of a deal were “inaccurate.” However, neither would not comment as to whether talks were ongoing.

Comcast made a run for Disney five and half years ago for some $66 billion but that bid came to naught.  The company also kicked MGM's tires three year ago when that company was being shopped, and ultimately the Lion was caged for $5 billion by a consortium of private equity players, with both Comcast and Sony holding minority stakes.

Since then Comcast head Brian Roberts has purportedly wanted to get back into the content hunt, with Time Warner generally cited as the most likely target.

Investors value shares of Comcast of late at close to historical lows; GE’s stock is also trading way down from its historic highs and the parent has been rumored to want to offload the Peacock for more than a year. Universal too is not having a stellar film year, so this may be the time when interested suitors are most likely to surface.

The rumors of talks between the cabler and GE come as big bids for content players have been decidedly out of fashion. Time Warner has sold off its cable assets and Viacom decoupled from CBS two years ago. 

Still, m&a activity in the broader market has just started picking up, so it’s plausible that a Comcast play for NBC Uni would shake loose other suitors for the film and TV assets. Talks might have started as interest in Vivendi’s 20% stake in NBC Uni, which the French conglom has put up for sale.

On Wednesday, Comcast shares fell 50 cents to close at $16.88; GE shares down 29 cents, at $16.42.