Comcast to buy GE’s stake in NBCUniversal ahead of schedule
LOS ANGELES — Comcast said Tuesday that it will buy the rest of NBCUniversal from General Electric for $16.7 billion, doing so several years early as the company takes advantage of low borrowing costs and what CEO Brian Roberts called a “very attractive price.”
The cable giant is also buying NBCUniversal’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York and the CNBC headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for another $1.4 billion.
Comcast had bought a 51 percent stake in the company that owns the NBC broadcast network, the movie studio Universal Pictures and cable TV networks such as USA, CNBC, Bravo and SyFy in January 2011. General Electric had the remaining 49 percent.
Comcast had planned to take a larger stake in it over seven years, paying for it from operating cash, starting in July 2014.
But Roberts said the sale of its stake in cable TV network A&E and some wireless spectrum gave it plenty of cash on hand. He also said Comcast got a good deal, given that the stock price of media conglomerates has been rising.
“We thought that we would have to pay more later,” he said. “We really have known we wanted to buy 100 percent from the beginning of the transaction. We wanted to learn the business ... we feel that now is an opportune time.”
The deal, expected to close by the end of March, values NBCUniversal at around $34 billion, and it has about $5 billion in debt. When Comcast bought the 51 percent stake in the company in January 2011, it was valued at around $30 billion.
Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, is the nation’s largest cable TV operator with 22 million subscribers. It is the largest cable provider in the Charleston region.
Comcast had bought the stake in NBCUniversal from General Electric for $6.2 billion in cash and contributed its cable TV networks such as E! and The Golf Channel worth $7.25 billion. The deal closed after a year of regulatory scrutiny.