Rockefeller Centre and other NBC Universal and assets to pass fully into Comcast ownership

Back in December 2009 when Comcast began its road to acquiring 51.0 per cent of NBC Universal for over USD 13.00bn from General Electric (GE), it was envisioned that a full takeover would not take place for a considerable number of years given the economic uncertainty and general deal making malaise that had engulfed the world of M&A.

It wasn’t a simple transaction to complete, with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission requiring a number of conditions to be met by Comcast before the deal could proceed. In fact, it didn’t actually close until January 2011 and was the 9th largest completed deal globally that year, subsequently causing a whole load of hassle for Comcast. The company was fined USD 800.00k in the middle of 2012 for not selling off its standalone internet service, which was a pre-requisite of the deal approval terms. However, in the context of the overall price paid this fine was no more than a mere slap on the wrist.

A little over 2 years has passed since the original transaction completed and late yesterday it was announced that Comcast was proceeding with a deal to acquire the remaining 49.0 per cent for USD 16.70bn. This will not only give the firm control of a large and very profitable cable and broadcasting network, it will also provide it with ownership in some of America’s iconic buildings, including New York’s Rockefeller Centre  and California’s Universal Studios.

Comcast’s CEO, Brian Roberts, is quoted as saying that the deal “is ahead of schedule to take advantage of low interest rates and a very attractive price”. It will also provide a big boost for M&A deal makers as it will be the third largest transaction announced so far this year, after the USD 24.40bn LBO of Dell and the USD 23.30bn acquisition of Virgin Media by Liberty Global.

Filed under: dealmaking, US, broadcasting