Why is Comcast Looking to Exit This Joint Venture?

NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is planning to sell part of its stake in A&E Television Networks to other partners in the joint venture, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) and the Hearst Corporation, in a deal that could be worth about $2 billion.

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NBCUniversal, which is jointly-owned by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and General Electric (NYSE:GE), currently has a 15.8 percent stake in A&E. Comcast, which has the controlling stake in the entertainment company, said earlier this week in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had exercised an option on March 26 requiring Disney and Hearst to buy back “a substantial portion” of its ownership in A&E. Each company owns roughly 42 percent of the network.

Citi analyst Jason Bazinet estimates NBCUniversal’s stake in A&E to be worth roughly $2 billion — money that could be used to reduce the company’s debt, which could also make it easier for Comcast to eventually acquire GE’s remaining 49 percent stake in the company.

A&E Television Networks owns the History channel, Lifetime, and Biography, as well as its own namesake network.

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