Time Warner won't bid for NBCU; could strengthen Comcast’s hand

Fri, 10/02/2009 - 8:20am
The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The head of Time Warner Inc. says he's not interested in making a bid for NBC Universal. That could strengthen the hand of Comcast Corp. as it explores whether to buy a controlling stake in the parent of the NBC network and Universal Studios.

At a conference Friday in Washington, D.C., Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said an investment in NBC Universal doesn't make sense for his company.

Time Warner is already whittling the slate of films it puts out each year. Time Warner, which owns HBO, CNN and other cable networks, could have a better fit with NBC Universal's cable networks, but Time Warner says it's not interested in those assets either.

Philadelphia-based Comcast is in talks to take a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal if General Electric Co. spins the unit out.

NBC Universal owns the NBC network, Universal Pictures, Universal theme parks, Telemundo and cable channels including Bravo, USA Network and CNBC.

Some highlights of the Comcast deal:

  • The deal: GE is expected to buy French media conglomerate Vivendi SA's 20 percent ownership stake in NBC Universal as early as mid-November. GE is then expected to contribute those shares toward NBC Universal, which will be spun-off into a separate company. Comcast is negotiating to buy a controlling interest in NBC Universal. GE will retain 49 percent ownership.
  • By the numbers: Comcast is expected to pay $4 billion to $6 billion in cash toward the deal and contribute its cable network assets worth another $6 billion. Comcast also is expected to share in NBC Universal's debt, estimated at $10 billion to $12 billion. NBC Universal has been valued from the low $20 billion to $35 billion.
  • What it means to viewers: Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV operator, will have control over a major entertainment company. That means movies and TV shows could reach video-on-demand and the Internet faster because Comcast would control both ends of the business.
More Broadband Direct 10/02/09:
•  Comcast debuts 4G service in Salem, Ore.
•  Time Warner won't bid for NBCU; could strengthen Comcast's hand
•  Rentrak names Chemerow COO, CFO
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