GE and Vivendi agree NBC Universal deal

General Electric has agreed to pay Vivendi $5.8 billion for the French group's 20 per cent stake in NBC Universal paving the way for the conglomerate's planned sale of 51 per cent of the US media group to Comcast.

The valuation is at the high end of expectations and essentially equates to one fifth of the valuation the Comcast deal puts on NBCU, once debt is stripped out. However, it is slightly below the stake's current valuation in Vivendi's books.

GE and Vivendi had been negotiating valuation since the French group's annual window for exercising a put option on the stake opened on November 15. It was not immediately clear, however, whether GE would pay Vivendi the full $5.8bn upfront, or seek to stagger the payment over a period, given that the Comcast deal is expected to take as long as a year to clear regulatory hurdles.

The ultimate aim is for Comcast deal to buy a 51 per cent stake in NBCU for $30 billion.

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