Comcast denies talk of NBC Universal deal
Nation's largest cable company says there is no imminent deal with General Electric to buy the entertainment unit.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Comcast Corp. has denied news reports that it was hammering out a deal to buy entertainment giant NBC Universal from its parent General Electric.
Reports first started surfacing late Wednesday that the two companies were in talks. According to Web site TheWrap, a $35 billion deal had already been completed.
But Comcast refuted the reports. "While we do not normally comment on [mergers and acquisitions] rumors, the report that Comcast has a deal to purchase NBC Universal is inaccurate," Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury told CNN.
A GE spokesman declined to comment.
The fate of NBC Universal -- which includes the NBC television network, Universal Pictures and the Universal theme parks -- has been the target of intensifying speculation recently. French telecom giant Vivendi, which bought a 20% stake in NBC Universal in 2004, has reportedly mulled its option to sell.
Under the deal's original terms, Vivendi has the annual right to divest its stake during a three-week window starting Nov. 15 each year.
Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Lévy has publicly described the stake in NBC Universal as a "non-core asset."
The unit has been struggling lately. NBC Universal reported a 41% drop in second-quarter profit to $539 million. Excluding a $95 million writdown and a one-time gain in the 2008 quarter, the company said its profit would have dropped only 24% from the year-earlier period.
Revenue slumped 8% to $3.6 billion during the quarter.
Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500), the largest U.S. cable company, failed in an unsolicited bid to buy Walt Disney Co (DIS, Fortune 500). for $54 billion in 2004. The deal would have created the world's biggest media company.
Shares of Comcast were down about 2% premarket, while GE's stock was flat.