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General Electric

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Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt reaffirmed Friday that a partial sale or spinoff of its NBC Universal entertainment unit is on the table, while saying the company has no need for cash.

Bearish observers of GE believe unrealized losses in GE Capital and expected tougher capital requirements from regulators will mean GE will need to raise a substantial amount of cash at some point, either by issuing equity or through unit sales, or a combination.

Instead, during the conference call to discuss the company's third-quarter report, Immelt put the situation with NBC Universal in the context of GE's partnership with Vivendi. The French conglomerate has a 20% stake in NBCU and is expected to exercise its right to unload it. GE has been widely reported to be in talks to sell a majority stake in the unit to


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Time Warner Inc.


, was initially thought to be a potential partner for GE, but Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes quickly quashed any speculation on such a deal, noting the industry's poor M&A track record.

NBCU was a solid performer for GE until 2008, but has had a rough 2009 due to the advertising slowdown. Immelt said it "has been performing in line with their industry but below our original expectations." For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, the division turned in a profit of $732 million, up 13% from the comparable year-ago period.


Written by Dan Freed in New York