Comcast lobbying push may tack on $100 million to NBC Universal acquisition

It's assumed that Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is spending a lot of its subscribers' money to acquire NBC Universal for $31 billion or so. What's less widely assumed is that the MSO is emptying its pockets for lobbyists, full page newspaper ads in The Washington Post and lesser lights like Roll Call, the Hill, the National Journal and Politico and just tons of man/woman hours and paperwork needed to sate FCC and other agency demands for information. In the end, this pocket change could add up to more than $100 million--on top of the acquisition price, a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer said.

Wall Streeters are concerned that when all is said and done the deal might not be as good as Comcast first thought. Everyone but the doormen on the Comcast building have sought concessions from the MSO as part of approval and Comcast has acceded to many of them so that, according to Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan, quoted in the story, "it will be hard to get a lot of synergies out of the deal."

Still, once started this is a tough ball to stop rolling, no matter the odds. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, as late as the recent second quarter earnings conference call with analysts, said he was comfortable that the deal could get accomplished by the end of the year. Comcast political front man David Cohen has been further carrying the MSO's banner, while assuring concerned parties that the cable operator is "not willing to accept conditions that would impede our ability to run the legacy Comcast business and our new NBCU business."

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