US cablenet Comcast is in talks with NBC Universal with some reports suggesting the operator may take complete control of the company. Others point to a more modest holding of between 20 and 50%.
A change in ownership for NBC Universal, whose assets range from movie studios through to multichannel televisions services including CNBC, Hallmark and Sci-Fi, became inevitable after Vivendi executives said they no longer viewed the business as a core asset. Under the 2004 formation of NBC Universal, the former majority shareholder and owner of Canal+ has the right to sell its stake in the business at a later stage, with mounting speculation Jean-Bernard Levy recently told an investor conference that he was yet to decide whether or not the company would sell its 20% this year.
Reports of Comcast’s interest first emerged in the Hollywood blog The Wrap, but in a statement Comcast described the post as “inaccurate”. Time Warner has also been mentioned in connection with a possible purchase and like Comcast is known to have held talks with NBC Universal’s majority owners General Electric.
Comcast, the largest cable operator in the United States by subscribers, has recently expressed an interest in expanding its channel portfolio. It is best known in Europe for E! Entertainment and Style.