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During their meeting, NBC's Wright and Vivendi's Fourtou will ostensibly put the finishing touches on combining of VU’s film studio, TV group and theme park and GE’s NBC, MSNBC, Bravo and CNBC networks.
NBC UNIVERSAL: A NEW MEDIA GIANT IS HATCHED
Execs Said to Be Finalizing Deal for New Eighth Largest Media Conglom
How does the name NBC Universal grab you?

Well, it doesn’t matter what you think. Execs from Vivendi Universal and the General Electric-owned TV network are finalizing their deal to merge the assets into what would instantly become the eighth-largest media company, valued in excess of $40 billion, the L.A. Times reports.

A New York confab between Vivendi ruler Jean-Rene Fourtou and NBC Chairman Bob Wright is slated for today (10/2); during the meeting, the two will ostensibly put the finishing touches on the planned combination of VU’s film studio, TV group and theme park and GE’s NBC, MSNBC, Bravo and CNBC networks.

NBC would own 80% of the new entity, which it would also manage, and Vivendi would claim 20%, the Times notes. $1.6 billion in Vivendi debt would be assumed by the merged media giant, and the French company would have three seats on the NBC Universal board.

If all goes well, Wright and Fourtou will then drink from a ceremonial chalice filled with ram’s blood, in accordance with media-mogul tradition.

Though the pact could be trumpeted by week’s end, the Times cites “sources close to the company” who say it wouldn’t truly be done until Q2 of 2004. Rumors that Fourtou would have to be made over by the Fab Five from Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as a condition of the merger couldn’t be confirmed by presstime.

GE will assist Vivendi in generating the necessary $3.8 billion in cash for the deal.

French company Vivendi was best known as a water company when it swam into the shark-infested waters of the entertainment world some three years ago by merging with Universal. Like several other mega-mergers of the period, the marriage seemed to presage a new era of highly profitable synergy, but this never materialized.

Even so, Vivendi-owned Universal Music Group, which remains the market-share leader in the music business, is not part of the deal.

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