General Electric will decide the fate of NBC Universal, its media and entertainment unit valued at approximately $40 billion, after the Beijing Olympics next August, the Financial Times reports, citing sources close to the matter. GE owns an 80% stake in NBC, with Vivendi owning the rest and the right to ask GE to buy back its stake or to force a listing. Vivendi itself is reportedly not considered a potential acquirer or a long-term shareholder. GE declined to comment, but executives have apparently said any decision to sell will depend on the impact on the overall company, with top concerns being valuation and tax rates. GE owns U.S. TV rights to the Beijing games and is expected to receive a windfall in advertising revenues and an estimated $500M in Olympics-related sales across the company's business units. Meanwhile, NBC CEO Jeff Zucker has instituted a $700M cost savings program and has been acquiring cable TV channels including the recently announced $925M deal for Oxygen Media (full story). GE reports Q3 earnings on Friday. Its shares fell 0.5% to $41.81 on Wednesday.
Sources: Financial Times
Commentary: Is GE About To Sell NBC? • GE Reiterates Earnings Guidance • Amazon's Unbox Grabs NBC Programming From iTunes
Stocks/ETFs to watch: GE, OTCPK:VIVEF
Earnings call transcript: General Electric Q2 2007
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