July 10, 2012 / 2:56 PM / 7 years ago

Comcast's NBC to sell A&E Television stake for $3 billion

(Reuters) - Cable operator Comcast Corp said its NBC Universal unit will sell its 15.8 percent stake in History Channel owner A&E Television Networks LLC to the other partners in the venture for $3.02 billion in cash.

An NBC sign on the General Electric building in New York October 5, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Comcast sold its stake in A&E for $1 billion more than it said it was worth only a few months ago.

The stake sale comes two months after Comcast said it would exercise an option to sell “a substantial portion” of its holding to its joint-venture partners Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst Corp.

Comcast did not say how the stake would be apportioned between Hearst and Disney-ABC.

“We believe CMCSA is following its strategy of monetizing assets which it does not control operationally,” Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker wrote in a client note.

“Given the sale price of this particular asset, we view this strategy even more favorably than we did before.”

Ryvicker, who has an “outperform” rating on Comcast’s stock, expects the company to use the proceeds to buy back half of General Electric Co’s stake in NBC Universal.

The History Channel recently scored a huge hit with its first scripted project “Hatfields & McCoys”.

The three part, six-hour miniseries based on the American Civil War saw Kevin Costner on horseback nearly a decade after his last Western movie “Open Range” and garnered 14.3 million viewers on its finale.

Comcast’s stock, which touched a more than 12-year high of $32.50 last week, was up 14 cents at $31.41 in midday trading on Tuesday on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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