By William Launder
Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA, CMCSK) NBCUniversal unit confirmed plans to sell its minority stake in A&E Television Networks for $3.03 billion to joint-venture partners Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Hearst Corp.
A&E agreed to redeem NBCUniversal's 15.8% stake in a deal to be paid in cash and in the form of a senior note issued by A&E, Comcast said in a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Comcast said earlier this year that it had exercised an option to sell the stake, which was widely expected to be sold to Disney and Hearst. Last week, it was reported by various outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, that a deal was near.
Comcast acquired its stake in A&E--home to the History Channel, the Biography Channel and Lifetime--when it purchased a controlling interest in NBCUniversal from General Electric Co. (GE) last year.
The stake sale implies a valuation of almost $20 billion for all of A&E. According to a note from Davenport Research, the A&E group of channels ranks fourth in total prime time viewers, with the top three spots taken by Viacom Inc. (VIA, VIAB), Time Warner Inc. (TWX) and NBCUniversal. A&E is expected to have about $1.1 billion in cash flow this year, Davenport said.
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