Comcast said on Tuesday that it has agreed to buy the 49 percent of NBCUniversal that it doesn’t already own from current owner General Electric, a deal that will cost approximately $16.7 billion. Comcast bought 51 percent of the broadcaster from GE in 2011, and wasn’t expected to acquire more for several years but said it recently decided to accelerate the purchase.
In a statement, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that the decision was driven by “our sense of optimism for the future prospects of NBCUniversal and our desire to capture future value that we hope to create for our shareholders.” Roberts also said that he believes Comcast is in a “strong and unique position” to build value in the combined company.
The Comcast deal will not have to be approved by federal regulators, who fined the cable company $800,000 last year for failing to meet some of the conditions it placed on the original purchase. Comcast said it expects the deal to close by the end of March.
As part of the acquisition, NBCUniversal will also buy the buildings that it uses at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York and CNBC’s headquarters in New Jersey for about $1.4 billion. According to the New York Times, a “clash of cultures” was partly responsible for speeding up Comcast’s decision to buy the remaining part of the company.
Comcast also announced its fourth-quarter financial results ahead of schedule, and said its earnings climbed by 19 percent from the same period a year ago, while revenue rose by 6 percent to $16 billion and operating income grew 13 percent to $3 billion. The company said it will increase its dividend by 20 percent and will repurchase $2 billion worth of stock this year.
This story was corrected Tuesday evening to clarify that the deal is not subject to federal approval, as originally stated.
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