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GE Shows Weakness on NBCU

Stocks in this article: GE

FAIRFIELD, Conn. ( TheStreet) -- General Electric (GE) suddenly looks vulnerable in its negotiations with Vivendi over the French conglomerate's 20% stake in NBC Universal.

At least, that is my reading of a Bloomberg News report late Monday headlined: "GE Said To Lean Toward IPO of Vivendi's NBC Stake."

GE is close to a deal to sell 51% of NBCU to Comcast, with GE retaining the other 49%, according to news reports. First, though, Vivendi must sell its 20% stake to GE. Though Vivendi has reportedly given several indications it wants out of NBCU, the two sides are apparently quite far apart -- $1 billion -- according to a Financial Times report last week. Bloomberg puts the difference at $500 million.

Bloomberg's report looks to me like a rather obvious leak by GE or one of its bankers in an attempt to get Vivendi to back down on price. Realistically GE cannot risk an IPO of 20% of NBCU, as the move would force it to disclose far more details about how much the remaining 80% is worth than GE wants to provide. GE might get further putting pressure on Comcast to put in a little extra money as Comcast seems very eager to do a deal.

General Electric shares were off 6 cents to $15.97 in late morning action, while Comcast's stock was down a penny to $15.08.

For more on business trends affecting the future of television networks NBC, CBS Corp. (CBS)'s CBS, News Corp. (NWS) Fox and Walt Disney (DIS)Co.'s. ABC network, click here .

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

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