Television

General Electric, Vivendi sign deal for VUE assets

PARIS: After a protracted battle of around four and a half months the battle over the assets of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE) has come to a close.

French media firm Vivendi Universal and General Electric have signed an agreement. GE subsidiary NBC will take over VUE. The new entity will be called NBC Universal. The merger has created the world's sixth-largest media company.

The $14 billion merger has given NBC an 80 per cent stake in the new company. Reports indicate that within the next three years NBC Universal could go in for an IPO. The deal is not expected to face problems from The Federal Communications Commission, the Justice Department and the European Commission who will review the deal.

NBC will have the task of smoothing out an operation that has brought financial troubles to Vivendi's past three owners: Japan's Matsushita, Canada's Seagram and France's Vivendi. NBC is said to be confident about moving into the motion picture business. The strong growth of DVD sales has made studios a safe bet. VUE has had such hits this year like the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty and the true story Seabiscuit..

One decision that NBC will have to take is whether to retain or sell the five Universal Studios theme parks. This is l not expected to happen until the recession that hit the travel industry finally lifts.

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