Vivendi may sell NBC Universal share via IPO

A new development on the hush-hush (anything but) talks between General Electric and Paris-based media conglomerate Vivendi, as the reluctant parent of NBC Universal continues to try for a marriage with Comcast that would give the big cable company a majority stake in its digital Peacock Network.

Bloomberg is reporting that GE is now looking to allow Vivendi to proceed with an IPO of the 20% share it holds in NBCU, hoping that move will advance the deal with Comcast, and help GE shed the apparently down-market network. GE and Comcast, earlier this month, agreed to value NBC Universal at $30 billion, making Vivendi's share worth about $6 billion. But the French company believes its share is worth roughly more than that, and has played hardball, knowing the deal is unlikely to move forward without its stake being in GE's hands, or at least out of Vivendi's.

"GE wants to get this deal done very badly. And they are now exposed because having started down this road, GE has admitted to the market that NBC Universal isn't a core asset and they want to get rid of it," Porter Bibb, managing partner at MediaTech Capital Partners LLC, told Bloomberg. "They don't want to come back and be stuck with it; they will make this deal happen."

But making that IPO happen could be just as difficult, as NBC Universal's star has been on the decline, and investors are likely to be worried about the company's future under Comcast's guidance. Also at issue, is whether regulators will approve the deal that gives Comcast so much control over content.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg article

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