New Suitors For NBC Universal And Its Botoxed Anchors Revealed; Myopic Men Of Mistaste Include Malone And Murdoch
Did Comcast think it can poach the crack Power Lunch (no pun intended) CNBC team all on its own? Turns out the answer is a flat out no. According to Reuters not only will GE likely exit its Comcast venture within 4 years (apparently the Comcast deal is virtually a certainty now, much to the chagrin of the Squawk Box team et al), but others media conglomerates are also considering getting involved in what could soon become a heated bidding war for the ample assets partially hidden by various grotesquely stretched sweaters. Reuters reports:
Under the proposal, NBC Universal would become a joint venture 51 percent owned by Comcast and 49 percent by GE. It would be valued at around $30 billion. Comcast would contribute around $4 billion to $6 billion in cash as well as its collection of cable networks to pay for its stake.
The deal has involved a lot of back and forth negotiations between both sides.
But GE, which has been pressured by investors to offload its 80 percent stake in NBC Universal, is considering a host of proposals for the unit, as partner Vivendi SA (VIV.PA) explores whether to sell its 20 percent stake.
GE has negotiated a redemption option, that will give it the right to redeem all or part of its stake in the so-called 'newco' in exchange for cash at the three-and-a-half year mark and at a seven-year mark, the sources said. They spoke anonymously because the talks are private.
The new NBC Universal is expected to be able generate enough cash to pay down $9 billion in debt that would be added to its books as part of the deal, and purchase the rest of the company from GE.
And just because Rupert has no desire to see the World Leader in Propaganda News depart for the 120 mile one-way trip to Philadelphia, he may just do away with his current Fox Business venture and throw in his 2 cents into the bidding hat, ant-trust regulation be damned. After all Goldman already owns Canadian media; it is only fitting that an Australian would control US business news.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA.O) and John Malone's Liberty Media Corp (LINTA.O) are also interested in NBC Universal, though neither has approached GE so far, CNBC reported, citing sources.
News Corp, which owns the Fox cable network and local TV stations, had been seen as a less likely bidder, analysts have said, because taking a stake in NBC might raise antitrust concerns with the U.S. government.
The silver lining: neither Comcast, nor Liberty, nor News Corp, has a half a trillion finance subsidiary that has the second worst balance sheet after AIG. As such, it just may happen that CNBC will at some point soon return to providing a balanced and unbiased coverage of the markets. However, as Gasparino would say, the situation is fluid: don't turn that TV on just yet.