WSJ is reporting that the deal under consideration would give the cable giant a 51 percent ownership of NBC Universal as part of a joint venture with GE, which would own the remainder. Comcast would contribute cable assets worth about $6 billion, plus $4 billion to $6 billion in cash. Any deal would require Vivendi, currently NBC Universal's current minority shareholder, to exercise its right to exit later this year.
The plotting over NBC Universal was set in motion by a feature of the 2004 deal in which Vivendi merged its Universal movie studio, cable networks and theme parks with GE's NBC businesses. As part of the deal, Vivendi received cash and about 20% of NBC Universal, according to securities filings. Vivendi also got the right to exit the joint venture, with an annual period to declare its intentions that runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 10. Exercising that right would trigger a sale to public investors of Vivendi's NBC Universal shares. GE can step in to buy the stake privately, the securities filings say. It has also said it could find another partner to buy the stake.