Vivendi Silent on NBC Universal Stake Sale Report

PARIS (Reuters) – Vivendi (VIV.PA) on Monday declined comment on whether it was likely to sell its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal this year, which could pave the way for a possible initial public offering of the U.S. media group.

“Vivendi has no comment to add to what (Chief Executive) Mr Levy has said,” a spokeswoman for Europe’s largest entertainment group said.

She was speaking after the New York Times said on Friday that Vivendi appeared likely to sell its holding in General Electric’s (GE.N) NBC Universal this year.

GE executives now believe Vivendi will decide to unload its stake in NBC Universal later this year, and are discussing various options including a spinoff, the newspaper cited people briefed on the matter as saying. [ID:nL18275968]

Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy last week described the company’s stake in NBC Universal as “non-core” but said Vivendi has not decided whether to exercise its option, and will not announce its decision until November. [ID:nN16149057]

Under the terms of a 2004 agreement, Vivendi has the right from mid-November to early December up until 2016 to sell its stake to GE or to sell it as part of an initial public offering. A decision to sell would trigger a provision allowing GE to buy out Vivendi.

If Vivendi decides to sell its stake in NBC Universal, a company valued by Wall Street at up to $35 billion according to the Times, the deal would be this year’s biggest media deal.

NBC Universal and General Electric representatives have declined to comment on the report. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Hans Peters)