September 27, 2010 / 7:20 AM / 9 years ago

Vivendi sells $2 billion NBC stake to GE

PARIS (Reuters) - French conglomerate Vivendi (VIV.PA) said on Monday it had sold an initial chunk of its 20 percent stake in U.S. media group NBC Universal to General Electric (GE.N) for $2 billion as it shifts its acquisition strategy.

Vivendi said it would sell the remaining 12.34 percent it owns in NBC to GE for $3.8 billion after the completion of a GE transaction with new NBC owner Comcast (CMCSA.O), as per an agreement set out in late 2009.

Earlier this month, Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy said the group could use the NBC sale proceeds to buy 100 percent of telecom operator SFR, of which it currently owns 56 percent.

Vivendi shares have slid to seven-year lows relative to the European market, largely underperforming peers on concerns about acquisitions, the cost of a U.S. class-action lawsuit and intensifying competition in the French telecom structure.

Vivendi’s holding company structure under which it does not wholly own its major divisions, has led investors to apply a 25 to 40 percent conglomerate discount. The company had 11.5 billion euros of debt at the end of June.

Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Louise Heavens

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