Get set for the debut of NBC Universal. The last hurdle to the merger of General Electric's ( GE) NBC and Vivendi Universal's ( V) U.S. entertainment subsidiary appeared to be cleared Wednesday. Vivendi Universal and GE, which
first announced the deal last October, say they hope to complete it in the next few weeks. Following the deal's completion, NBC would go from being essentially a broadcast TV network to part of a multimedia conglomerate, one allied with the Universal movie studio, the Universal theme parks and other properties. In that way, the new NBC Universal -- of which GE would be a majority shareholder -- would more closely resemble NBC's broadcast rivals such as ABC, part of Disney ( DIS), and CBS, just one element of Viacom ( VIA.B). The deal also represents, for the French utility company Vivendi, part of a reasonably attractive exit strategy for its now-disavowed strategy of becoming a worldwide media conglomerate. The relevant news Wednesday was that Vivendi Universal and Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp ( IACI) -- the minority shareholder of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, Vivendi's U.S. entertainment subsidiary -- said they'd settled certain legal differences blocking the deal. More precisely, Vivendi and IACI said they have agreed "on the form of the letters of credit that would be issued to InterActiveCorp in order to defease certain covenants pursuant to the Vivendi Universal Entertainment Partnership Agreement in connection with the closing of the VUE-NBC transaction." "Defeasing these covenants," the companies explained, "is a condition to closing the VUE-NBC transaction." Previously, Diller had said NBC and Vivendi needed his approval before completing their deal, though it was unclear Tuesday at what price such approval came. An IACI spokeswoman declined to comment. Wednesday's news comes one day after Vivendi announced that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission wouldn't block the proposed deal. On Wednesday afternoon, GE's shares were up 3 cents to $30.50, Vivendi's were up 44 cents to $25.61 and IACI's were down 15 cents to $31.97.