Television

NBC expected to clinch deal for VUE assets

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MUMBAI: After months of negotiations with different parties Vivendi is said to be close to taking a decision as to who will get the assets of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE). Its board is expected to approve entering exclusive negotiations with NBC's parent General Electric for the proposed merger between NBC and VUE.

If the deal does go through, Vivendi would have around a 20 per cent stake in the new entity NBC Universal. As reported earlier by Indiantelevision.com through the deal NBC is looking to compete with the likes of AOL Time Warner. Reports indicate that Vivendi CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou is infatuated with GE's esteemed management team; and believes that the company, under GE leadership, will build value over time.

The talk of Vivendi looking at an initial public offering is said more of a tactic to give it further leverage during negotiations with GE rather than a path that the media company would seriously consider pursuing. The other remaining bidder Edgar Bronfman used to own Universal Studios before selling out to Vivendi three years ago.

Bronfman has urged Vivendi Universal to accept his $13 billion offer. for the group's entertainment assets. He said that making a deal with NBC would mean that Vivendi would be unable to regain market credibility. He pointed out that a merger with NBC would mean that Vivendi would have less control and influence over its business. He also said that NBC's inexperience at running a studio, an entertainment cable network or a theme park could hurt the new entity if the deal went through.

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