@ UBS Media Week: Zucker: ‘Safety First’ — Cutting Back On M&A Activity In Digital, International

Last week, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) cut some 500 jobs as part of CEO Jeff Zucker’s campaign to slash $500 million from operating costs for 2009. Today Zucker made it clear that his pragmatic approach applies to spending in the M&A side. While others talk about possible opportunities, Zucker told analysts and investors at the 36th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that the next 18 months will be the flip side of the heavy-spending last 18 for NBCU: “We are in a safety-first environment … let’s be prudent, let’s be smart. … Let’s make sure we’re running the business properly. … There will be opportunities down the road and when those opportunities emerge we will be there.” That includes digital and international, both a major part of NBCU’s long-term plans. Instead, the focus will be on integrating acquisitions. Coming back to the subject later, Zucker added, ” In the 18 months prior to September, I don’t think there was any major media company more active in M&A.” As for pulling back now, “I don