Comcast/GE Discussing Joint NBC Universal Venture

Comcast is discussing the formation of a new joint venture company in partnership with General Electric, according to executives familiar with talks.

The new company would be majority controlled by Comcast which would own a 51% stake in NBC Universal versus General Electric’s 49%. Comcast’s only cash outlay would be in the $4 billion to $6 billion range, according to one person in the midst of talks. CNBC had reported that Comcast would kick-in as much as $7 billion. That point appears to be one of many still under negotiation. One executive said General Electric would also contribute $12 billion in debt to the spun-off entity. Comcast’s assets include: E!, Style, Golf Channel and a group of regional sports networks.

As part of the deal Comcast would manage the new entity and merge its own cable assets into the venture. The deal is of course dependent on Vivendi giving up its 20% stake in NBC Universal which is majority owned by NBC Universal. The company is yet to decide on its plan for the stake.

Some deal players have suggested the $35 billion valuation, which originated from a J.P. Morgan analyst, is too high and that Bernstein Research's figure of between $21 billion and $23 billion might be a more accurate figure. J.P. Morgan is also the banker for GE.

The executive refused to name a potential chief of the new company, should a deal be completed, though it seems as if Comcast as managing partner would be in the driving seat of the decision making.