Dateline Dollars: Vivendi Gains $2B From Comcast/NBC Venture

As government regulators review the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal joint venture, top executives at the French company that stands to benefit said they continue to expect the deal to close by Jan. 1. Nonetheless, $2 billion is coming Vivendi's way this month.

Comcast COO Steve Burke reiterated the same Jan. 1 timeline in late July. Vivendi will collect the $2 billion from General Electric this month -- an amount it is entitled to if the transaction did not close by Oct. 1. Upon closing, it is scheduled to get another $3.8 billion.

"We understand the process is now well-advanced," Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy told analysts. "We have hopes that the full green light will be given ... before the end of the year. But I'm just repeating what I hear. We are not part of that process; we are just waiting and still expecting it this year, although we have no certainty."

Last year, Vivendi reached a deal to sell its 20% stake in NBCU to General Electric for $5.8 billion, giving GE full ownership and paving the way for the Comcast transaction. The Comcast-GE deal would give Comcast control of NBCU.

Vivendi intends to use its proceeds to pay down debt.

For the first half of 2010, Vivendi received a dividend of about $192 million from the NBCU board -- down from $217 million a year ago, although currency fluctuations would have affected the amount.



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