Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) announced Tuesday, Jan. 18 that they have received regulatory clearance from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice for the joint venture that will consist of the NBC Universal businesses and Comcast's cable networks, regional sports networks and certain digital properties. The joint venture will be 51 percent owned by Comcast, 49 percent owned by GE and managed by Comcast. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of January.
“This is a proud and exciting day for Comcast,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast. “We are grateful for the leadership of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, the other FCC Commissioners and their staffs for the months of hard work that went into reviewing an unprecedented number of documents and public comments.”
“The NBC Universal joint venture will be well positioned to compete, innovate, and bring new choices to consumers,” Mr. Roberts continued. “Our original vision for the combination remains intact so that consumers will benefit, and our competitors will be treated fairly. We are pleased that many of the voluntary commitments we proposed beginning the day the transaction was announced and continuing throughout the process have been incorporated into the FCC's Order.”
Under the terms of the transaction, GE will contribute to the joint venture NBC Universal's businesses, including its cable networks, filmed entertainment, televised entertainment, theme parks and unconsolidated investments. Comcast will contribute its cable networks, including E!, Versus and the Golf Channel, its regional sports networks and certain digital media properties, and make a payment to GE subject to certain adjustments based on various events between signing and closing.
GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, “NBCU has been a great business for GE over the past 20 years, generating an average annual return of 11 percent. Reducing our ownership stake from 80 percent to 49 percent allows GE to continue sharing in NBCU's growth while also providing significant cash to invest in our high-technology infrastructure businesses, growing an attractive dividend, and continuing our buyback program. This transaction will have generated approximately $8 billion of cash at closing with an expected small after-tax gain. We are confident the NBCU team will continue to be in good hands under Brian Roberts, Steve Burke and the Comcast team's leadership.”
“Bringing the legendary assets of NBC Universal together with the content assets and technology expertise of Comcast will create many new opportunities for consumers. The combination of these assets will allow us to bring the future of anytime, anywhere media faster to consumers in America and around the globe,” said Steve Burke, who will become Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal at the official close of the transaction.
Additional information regarding the transaction can be found at www.comcast.com/nbcutransaction.