Vivendi CEO says IPO an option for NBC Universal

WATFORD, England Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:08pm EDT

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WATFORD, England (Reuters) - NBC Universal could be floated on the stock market if France's Vivendi decides to sell its 20 percent stake in the group majority-owned by General Electric, Vivendi's chief executive said on Tuesday.

"Why not?" Jean-Bernard Levy said when asked at a media conference whether an initial public offering would be an option for the U.S. entertainment group, adding that it would likely be in New York.

"It was part of the thinking we had back in 2003 when we created NBC Universal that maybe when Vivendi would exit, one way ... would be through a flotation on the stock market and maybe that is what will happen," he said.

French media group Vivendi has an annual window beginning in mid-November to decide whether to sell the stake to GE. Levy declined to say whether the company was leaning toward a sale this year.

"We have said repeatedly it is not a core part of Vivendi but we make no further comment," he said at the British government-sponsored c&binet conference in Watford near London.

Sources close to the discussions have said GE is negotiating a sale of a majority stake in NBCU to cable operator Comcast to create a powerhouse spanning TV broadcast, cable networks, movie and theme parks worth about $30 billion.

Such a deal would depend on Vivendi's selling its stake.

NBC Universal is an incongruous asset for GE, whose portfolio includes aircraft engines and power turbines.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Kate Holton; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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