In what may end up being one of the best things for CNBC, if not for many of its anchors, the WSJ reports that the Comcast-GE deal for NBC Universal is practically complete. Next stop for the Englewood Cliffs brigade: 15th and Market. Fear not: the Walt Whitman rush our traffic is much more manageable than that of the George Washington. Also, Smokes has a 3 for 1 special for 40 year old anchorettes who will do anything to adjust the weighted average age of their bodies by 5 to 10 years lower.
After weeks of wrestling, both sides have agreed to value NBC Universal at around $30 billion, people close to the talks said. The agreement includes a mechanism that could reduce the cash Comcast would have to kick in when the deal closes, two of those people said.
The two companies are now ironing out the final details of an agreement, according to the people. An announcement could come as early as the end of this week, the people said.
And lest you thought ratings shopping was over, it is not. Expect some serious S&P and Moody's cheerleading by CNBC "per the producers" this entire week:
Last Thursday, GE and Comcast met with debt-rating companies to seek their opinions on the approximately $9 billion in debt NBC Universal would take on as part of the combination, said people familiar with the meetings. The parties want NBC Universal's debt to be investment-grade, the people said. The debt rating is an important element of the deal because NBC Universal would use its borrowing capacity to help buy out the stakes of both GE and Vivendi.
GE and Comcast are hoping for a signal this week on how the ratings firms would regard NBC Universal's debt, people familiar with the meetings said.
Not surprisingly, Murdoch, after expressing a preliminary interest, is now out of the pciture:
News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, had held preliminary conversations with GE about an alternative deal involving NBC Universal. Those discussions have ended, according to people familiar with the matter, who said the talks never advanced far.
With CNBC's anchors cracking uneasy jokes about the Comcast's health plan, yet so much in favor of the Administrations health system overhaul, this will be a perfect time for them to take advantage of recent heathcare reform. That, and of course, individual shows' sinking ratings (here's looking at your Messrs Kudlow and Cramer). Ironically the biggest winner in the shake up could be the two other perpetual runners up: Bloomberg and Fox Business. Whether they manage to capitalize in the time CNBC is in transition will be interesting to observe.