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GE, VUE get engaged

General Electric Co. emerged victorious in the contest for Vivendi
Universal’s U.S. media assets, convincing Vivendi to enter into exclusive
negotiations that shut out rival suitor Edgar Bronfman Jr.

The move is well short of an actual deal -- Vivendi and GE said they "intend
to merge" Vivendi Universal Entertainment and NBC.

But it makes GE the last person standing and puts the company on the road to
hammering out a definitive agreement.

NBC chairman Robert Wright said that only regulatory approval stood in the
way of the deal.

A deal with GE would finally pair NBC with a studio -- something all of its
broadcast rivals did years ago. It also adds top-rated entertainment networks to
NBC’s portfolio of news networks and low-rated Bravo.

Under the proposal, GE would own 80% of the new media giant and Vivendi
roughly 20%.

GE wouldn’t put up any cash, but Vivendi could extract money by selling
securities tied to its NBC Universal stake -- about $3.8 billion at the

Wright would lead the new venture, while Vivendi would have three seats on a
board of directors.