Comcast to Buy Rest of GE's Stake in NBCUniversal
Also, NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com, will purchase the properties it uses at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for about $1.4 billion.
Comcast shares jumped more than 8 percent in after-hours trading, while GE shares were up more than 3 percent. (Click here for the latest after-hours quotes.)
While the initial agreement was for Comcast to buy the remaining stake over a number of years, CEO Brian Roberts said on CNBC that accelerating the deal was "born out of bullishness" about the future prospects for the business.
The deal, which is expected to close at the end of the first quarter, will be funded with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4 billion of subsidiary senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2 billion of borrowings under Comcast and/or bank credit facilities, and $725 million of subsidiary preferred stock to be issued to GE.
Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech Capital Partners, said on CNBC the deal puts Comcast in the driver's seat. "They own the content and the distribution pipes and they're very technologically adept," he said. "I don't know of any other media company that can control its own destiny as well as Comcast."
Comcast also released its earnings a day early. Fourth-quarter earnings rose 19 percent to 56 cents per share from 47 cents per share a year ago. Revenue climbed 5.9 percent to $15.9 billion from $15 billion a year ago on growth in its video, broadband and TV businesses. Operating income rose nearly 13 percent to $3.3 billion.
Comcast said its combined video, broadband, and voice customers rose 8 percent to 503,000 from the fourth quarter of 2011. Roberts also said on CNBC that the theme parks have been one of the biggest surprises and continue to grow.
Comcast also increased its dividend by 20 percent to 78 cents per share on an annualized basis and will repurchase $2 billion in stock in 2013.
GE, meanwhile, said the sale will allow it to return more cash to shareholders. GE's board increased the size of its share repurchase plan to $35 billion, with $23 billion remaining. GE plans to buy back about $10 billion in shares this year.