Speculation continued to swirl over the fate of NBC Universal today as company chief Jeff Zucker issued a memo designed to reassure staff that in fact told them nothing they didn’t already know.
Following last night’s [September 30] denial by Comcast of a report that it had done a deal to acquire NBC Universal, Zucker rushed out a communiqué.
“Not surprisingly, given the attractive nature of our assets, there is always significant interest in NBC Universal,” he said. “That has been amplified lately by the annual discussion with Vivendi about its 20 percent ownership of our company.
“Vivendi has been a superb owner of NBC Universal, along with GE, for more than five years. They have not yet made us aware of any final decisions about their future with us; should they choose to exit, there are a number of possible things that could happen. It is our longstanding policy not to comment on rumours, and we have adhered to that policy in connection with these rumours.”
The reference to Vivendi is what has sparked speculation over the fate of NBC Universal. The French conglomerate owns a 20% share of the company and under the terms of its ‘put’ option that comes due every November it can exercise the right to sell its stake either through an IPO or to parent company General Electric, which can then sell on to a third party.
However at this stage it remains unclear whether the French company will sell its share, even though it is understood to be more interested in building its telecommunications business.