Image: Pedestrians walk outside NBC Studios
Michael Nagle  /  Getty Images
Pedestrians walk in front of NBC Studios on 50th Street on Tuesday, Dec. 1, in New York City.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/2/2009 11:08:23 PM ET 2009-12-03T04:08:23

Comcast and General Electric Co. agreed to a deal under which Comcast will take a 51 percent share of NBC Universal, CNBC's David Faber reported, citing sources close to the situation.

"There's nothing left but to process paper," Faber said a source told him, adding that the two companies would announce the agreement on Thursday.

The news comes hours after GE agreed to pay reportedly $5.8 billion to buy out the 20 percent remaining portion of NBC Universal it doesn't already own from French media conglomerate Vivendi SA.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Sources told Associated Press that Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, is expected to pay General Electric $13.75 billion in cash and assets for control of NBC Universal.

The deal, which was set to be announced Thursday morning, calls for the nation's biggest cable TV provider to spend $6.5 billion in cash and contribute cable channels worth $7.25 billion for a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal. That is according to people familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been made public.

The new NBC Universal also is expected to borrow $9.1 billion — part of which will be used to cover the $5.8 billion that GE is giving to Vivendi SA. General Electric Co. had to buy Vivendi's 20 percent stake in NBC Universal before selling a controlling interest in the movie and TV company to Comcast Corp.

GE, which is based in Fairfield, Connecticut, and acquired NBC in 1986, would own a 49 percent stake in the new NBC Universal but is expected to completely divest its holdings after several years.

An agreement was supposed to have been announced weeks ago, but GE's talks with Vivendi have been taking longer than expected.

Comcast's agreement with GE has been set and wasn't expected to be affected by whatever price GE ends up paying Vivendi. The Wall Street Journal reported that GE would pay $5.8 billion for the stake.

A GE spokeswoman declined to comment late Monday.

Vivendi acquired a 20 percent stake in NBC in 2004 after the French company agreed to merge its Vivendi Universal Entertainment business with GE's NBC. Vivendi was trying to sell off some of its businesses after running up billions of dollars in debt in a buyout binge.

Comcast wants NBC Universal largely for its lucrative cable channels, such as Bravo and CNBC. NBC Universal also spans the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, the Universal Pictures movie studio and Universal theme parks.

Comcast is eager to diversify its holdings amid an encroaching threat from online video and more aggressive competition from satellite and phone companies that offer subscription TV services.

Although the deal holds the promise that movies could reach cable TV more quickly after showing in theaters, and that TV shows could appear faster on cell phones, it has already raised concerns that Comcast would wield too much power over entertainment.

Shares of GE rose 6 cents to $16.08 in midday trading while Comcast was up 14 cents to $14.80. But cable investors haven't been happy with the expected acquisition — Comcast has lost more than $6 billion in market value since reports of the deal first leaked on Sept. 30.

CNBC's David Faber and AP contributed to this report.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: GE-Comcast deal is done

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