Vivendi and its stake in NBC Universal may part company…

The New York Times’ Tim Arango writes about various scenarios involving Vivendi and its 20% stake in NBC Universal and how that could impact a GE decision to spin off the company…

Executives at General Electric say they believe that Vivendi, the French conglomerate, will exercise its right later this year to sell its stake in NBC Universal, a move that could lead to NBC Universal’s being spun off into a separate public company in 2010, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke anonymously in order to discuss internal deliberations.

While G.E.’s chief executive, Jeffrey R. Immelt, has often said publicly that the company plans to stay in the media business, a sale of Vivendi’s 20 percent share of NBC Universal in the public market would give G.E. more options if it chose to exit the television and film business by selling its 80 percent stake.

It could also make NBC Universal an attractive takeover target for other media companies. (Time Warner is often named as a possible suitor, but executives of the company have been vocal in saying they plan no major acquisitions.)

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