FAIRFIELD, Conn. (
has yet to reach agreement with
over the sale of Vivendi's 20% stake in NBC Universal, the
Wall Street Journal
Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper reported the talks are "the last major hurdle" to a much-anticipated joint venture between GE and
, in which the cable operator would get a majority stake in NBC Universal.
According to the report, Vivendi is seeking a higher price for its stake, as well as certain "deal protections." Nonetheless, the report said the differences between the two sides were unlikely to get in the way of a deal. The report says GE values NBCU at $30 billion, which would make Vivendi's stake worth $6 billion, though Vivendi valued its stake at the equivalent of $6.3 billion in June.
Though a deal announcement is expected any day now, Vivendi could decide to do an initial public offering of its stake, or to hold onto it, though there have been several reports indicating Vivendi wants to unload its interest in NBCU.
Assuming a deal is struck, it could still take six months to get the necessary regulatory approval, the
GE's sale of NBCU would be consistent with a stated strategy of focusing more on its industrial businesses, such as healthcare equipment and energy-related technology. Despite the size of the deal, the more important task for GE is shrinking its financial unit, as GE continues to trade more like a financial company.
GE shares were essentially flat in midmorning trading, along with other large financials, including
. Most industrial companies, including
were down slightly.
Comcast shares have been weak ever since reports of a potential deal with GE began to circulate, and they continued that trend Wednesday, dropping more than 2%. Shares of
which has been reported to have an interest in NBCU, were also down more than 2%.
Written by Dan Freed in New York