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VIVENDI AND GE GETTING CLOSE?
Two Could Come to Terms on NBC Deal by Next Week; Viacom’s Karmazin Sees It Happening
 Even as many observing the long, slow auction of Vivendi Universal’s Vivendi Universal Entertainment assets wish they would just get it over with already, it appears Jean-Rene Fourtou and company may be getting ready to do just that.

According to The Wall Street Journal, it looks like VU is closing in on a deal to merge its VUE assets with General Electric’s NBC. The two sides are reportedly hoping to agree on a rough deal before VU’s board meeting next week, at which VU management could recommend the company enter into exclusive talks with GE.

Several main points of a deal, which would take the shape of a GE-controlled joint venture in which VU would have a minority stake, have already been agreed upon, the Journal reports. These include a structure whereby VU would be able to sell at least part of its stake soon after the non-cash deal closes.

Of course, nothing’s been decided yet, but insiders are saying that if a GE deal doesn’t materialize, the Edgar Bronfman Jr. group is next in line, unless John Malone’s Liberty Media or Viacom come back with substantially higher bids, which isn’t seen as likely.

Meanwhile, speaking of Viacom, Reuters reports that Viacom President Mel Karmazin told a business conference in Aspen on Tuesday that he thinks GE will emerge victorious. Viacom, however, remains interested in VUE’s cable holdings.

"If they were interested in breaking it up, they know we have an interest and they know the prices," Karmazin said.

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