There’s been a ton of blogospheric analysis about the deal between Netflix and Comcast, and even after reading all of it you might well emerge as we did — completely unsure what to think.
Is the deal good or bad for consumers? Does it violate net neutrality, or have the pipes stayed neutral (and Netflix is simply a volume issue)? Is it any different from other deals already in place between content providers and internet service providers? Does it reflect the growing clout of the ISPs, or was it just smart business of Netflix to start bypassing the middlemen/backbone-providers? Read more
A Federal Communications Commission official who recently voted in favour of Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal is set to join the newly integrated company, the FT reports. Meredith Attwell Baker was one of four FCC commissioners who in January approved the combination of Comcast, the country’s largest cable operator, and NBC Universal, the television and film studio, after a lengthy review. Public interest groups have attacked Bakewell’s appointment as overseer of Comcast’s lobbying efforts towards Congress. Comcast said that Bakewell would not be lobbying the executive branch or the FCC itself.
US regulators will approve Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal from General Electric and Vivendi as early as Tuesday, people close to the review process say. The FT reports that the Federal Communications Commission has been working over final conditions for the deal since December, when chairman Julius Genachowski circulated a draft order for the approval to the FCC’s other four commissioners. Since then the commissioners have been hearing last-minute appeals from lobbyists and public interest groups who have emphasised the need for strict conditions that will prevent Comcast from exploiting its control of both content and distribution to harm competitors. Even if regulators approve the deal this week, the Wall Street Journal reports it is unlikely the transaction will close before the end of the month on account of its mechanics.
Comcast, the largest US cable operator, on Wednesday acknowledged that the regulatory approval process for its deal to acquire a majority stake in NBC Universal will run into January, dashing its hopes of closing the controversial transaction by the end of 2010, reports the WSJ. While recent media reports have suggested that official approval would be delayed, the companies involved in the deal have maintained that the transaction would close on schedule. Critics have warned against a merger of the biggest US cable company and a key media conglomerate in a rapidly consolidating industry. Comcast and NBCU however have argued that the deal would promote competition and benefit consumers.
Google’s YouTube video site is in negotiations with Hollywood’s leading movie studios to launch a global pay-per-view video service by the end of 2010, putting it head-to-head with Apple in the race to dominate the digital distribution of film and television content, the FT reports. Google has been pitching to the studios on the international appeal of a streaming, on-demand movie service pegged to the world’s most popular search engine and YouTube, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. At the same time, the Justice Department is investigating Comcast’s $13.75bn deal to buy NBC Universal over fears that the move could stunt the online video market, the WSJ reports.
Comcast has sealed an agreement to take control of NBC Universal from General Electric in a deal valuing the media property at $30bn and creating one of the largest US media companies. Comcast will pay about $6.5bn in cash and will own 51% of the combined venture and GE will own 49%. Vivendi has agreed to sell its 20% stake in NBCU back to GE for $5.8bn. The new venture will take on $9.1bn in debt to third party lenders.
Comcast’s long-awaited bid for control of NBC Universal will value the new joint venture with General Electric at an unexpectedly larger $37.25bn before debt, boosted by a higher valuation on the US cable group’s pay-TV stations, and also the potential for a larger cash outlay than earlier foreseen. The US cable service company’s bid for a 51% stake values existing NBCU assets – including NBC television, Universal Studios and cable channels – at $30bn including $9bn of debt. The deal follows months of haggling with GE, NBCU’s 80% owner, and Vivendi of France, which holds 20%.
Vivendi will not receive any cash upfront from General Electric for its stake in NBC Universal under a $5.8bn proposed deal agreed this week. GE will pay more than its original offer of about $5bn for the French media group’s 20% stake in NBCU but delay payments until at least late next year. The deal came despite an earlier contract that each year gives Vivendi the right to cash out by forcing an IPO of its stake unless GE buys it at a mutually agreed price. Vivendi’s window to exercise this option runs from Nov 15 to Dec 10. The deal paves the way for GE to sell 51% cent of NBCU to Comcast for about $30bn.
General Electric has agreed to pay Vivendi $5.8bn for the French group’s 20% stake in NBC Universal, paving the way for the conglomerate’s planned sale of 51% of the US media group to Comcast. The valuation, reached after protracted negotiations, is at the high end of expectations and equates to one fifth of the valuation that Comcast’s $30bn deal puts on NBCU, excluding debt. However, it is slightly below the stake’s current valuation in Vivendi’s books.
Comcast may seal a deal to buy a controlling stake in NBC Universal from General Electric by next Monday, creating one of America’s largest media companies. The deal, which values NBC Universal at about $30bn, would give Comcast, the top US cable operator, a 51% stake in a joint venture that would combine its cable channels with the oldest US broadcast network. The deal is at an advanced stage but could yet fall apart. It also depends on whether Vivendi sells its 20% stake in NBC Universal back to GE.
Markit’s Gavan Nolan wrote this CDS report
European credit indices recovered losses from yesterday’s correction amid signs that the major economies are continuing to improve. The Markit iTraxx Europe index was trading around 87bp, about 3.5bp tighter than yesterday’s close. The Markit iTraxx Crossover index was 17bp tighter at 524bp, while the Markit iTraxx HiVol index was trading around 142bp, 7bp tighter on the day. Read more
French telecoms and media company Vivendi is considering selling its 20% stake in NBC Universal this year, reports the WSJ. However a final decision will not be made until at least mid-November and will depend on whether Vivendi can get a good price, leaving the fate of the movie and TV company in limbo as NBC Universal’s majority owner GE and US cable operator Comcast discuss a deal to merge NBC Universal with Comcast’s TV networks. The deal relies on whether Vivendi decides to sell.
Comcast is in talks with General Electric to create a new venture that would combine NBC Universal and the content assets of the top US cable operator. The potential Comcast deal emerged this week as one of several options GE is pursuing as it waits for Vivendi, which owns 20% of NBC Universal, to exercise its right to sell the stake back to GE or force a stock sale.
Comcast, the largest US cable network, is in talks with General Electric to buy a stake in NBC Universal, reports Bloomberg. Negotiations for Comcast to buy about a 50% NBC Universal stake have been ongoing and a deal would depend in part on Vivendi making a decision to sell its 20% holding, said a person familiar with the discussions.
General Electric, the world’s biggest corporate borrower, on Thursday highlighted the recent sea-change in market sentiment by paying much higher interest rates to raise debt. GE, a benchmark for other companies looking to issue, will have to pay an extra €7.2m a year to borrow about €1.9bn as investors demanded higher premiums in the post-liquidity crunch climate. The deal, the first significant corporate bond issue in the European markets since July, is a warning to other lower rated issuers as September, traditionally a heavy month for raising debt, approaches. Other issuers forced to pay higher interest rate charges recently include Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and Comcast, the US cable operator.