GE's Immelt: Still Interested In Media

Jeffrey Immelt
Jeffrey Immelt

Media stocks have plummeted but CNBC's parent company, General Electric's CEO Jeffrey Immelt says he's still interested in buying media assets.

Immelt telling the Financial Times "There are going to be some opportunities in media consolidation, in infrastructure, oil and gas, aviation... And my hope is that we can play in some of those as time goes on."

Immelt's interest in expanding GE's media stake comes as the company may have such an opportunity. Vivendi, which owns 20 percent of NBC Universal is nearing its annual window, which starts November 15, to exercise an option that would force GE to buy back that 20 percent stake. Vivendi's power to trigger that put option would certainly force NBC U to make a big choice.

Immelt's comments on media are particularly notable because there was speculation that GE would be interested in selling NBC Universal after the Olympics. Though Immelt had denied those rumors many times, this is further affirmation of GE's commitment to its media business. A business NBC Universal invested in as recently as September, when along with Blackstone Group and Bain Capital, its acquisition of The Weather Channel closed.

So how much does GE have to spend and on what? In October GE sold $15 billion in preferred and common stock to replenish its funding and keep its AAA debt ratings. With media company stock prices at historic and near historic lows, GE may have more options than it had a year ago. Right now CBS' market cap is just $4.16 billion, remarkably low. So the question for GE is the same question facing investors: where's the growth opportunity?

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