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Comcast to buy GE’s 49 per cent stake in NBCUniversal

The $18.1bn deal marks exit of GE from entertainment business.

The US cable operator Comcast Corporation has signed an agreement to buy GE’s 49 per cent equity stake in NBCUniversal and properties including its 30 Rock studio for $18.1bn.

GE will receive from Comcast $16.7bn for NBCUniversal’s  broadcast, cable channels and film studio business, and $1.4bn for 1.4 million square feet of space at its 30 Rockefeller Plaza building in midtown Manhattan and CNBC’s headquarters in New Jersey.

GE and Vivendi sold a majority stake to Comcast in December 2009.

The deal will allow GE to invest further in its industrial business apart from increasing return to its shareholders this year. Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, said: “We are very pleased with the investment we have made in NBCUniversal, which generated a return of 14 per cent over more than two decades.”

Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, told the CNBC: “I think back to my dad starting Comcast in 1963 and where we are today with Comcast NBCUniversal. We’re very proud and excited.”

“It’s not a big risk because we had so much cash on the balance sheet,” Mr Roberts said.

As well as $11.4bn of cash, Comcast will fund the deal with $4bn of subsidiary senior unsecured notes issued to GE, $2bn of bank borrowings and $725m of subsidiary preferred stock.

Comcast shares grew 8 per cent in after-hours trading, while GE shares grew more than 3 per cent.

Morgan Stanley and Davis Polk & Wardwell advised Comcast on the deal.