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November 20, 2009

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Vivendi close to leaving NBCU

VIVENDI could leave United States media group NBC Universal as it has no intention of being part of the future joint venture being discussed by Comcast and General Electric, its chief financial officer said yesterday.

Philippe Capron also told the Morgan Stanley Media & Telecoms conference that selling its 20 percent stake in NBCU would give Vivendi "additional financial headroom" after it gained control of Brazil's telecoms operator GVT last week.

"We are not interested in staying onboard a new GE-Comcast ownership of NBCU. We will exit and it will give us more headroom," Capron said.

But Vivendi's board had made no decision on the matter, he said.

When asked if negotiations over NBCU were about the price, he said: "It often is."

General Electric, which owns 80 percent of NBCU, and Comcast Corp have agreed on the structure of the board for the proposed joint venture with NBC Universal, according to one insider.

Any deal between GE and Comcast would depend on Vivendi selling its NBCU stake.

Each year between mid-November and mid-December, Vivendi has to decide whether to exercise its put option to sell the stake.

This year, Vivendi is eager to dispose of the stake and is determined to get good value for it, sources have said.

Last week, Vivendi snatched Brazilian telecom group GVT from under Telefonica's nose in a dramatic and high-priced purchase.

Vivendi's bid valued GVT at 7.2 billion reais, or about US$4.8 billion against Telefonica's offer of US$4 billion.


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