By Liana B. Baker
(Reuters) - Comcast Corp on Tuesday said it would buy General Electric's remaining 49 percent equity stake in their NBCUniversal joint venture for about $16.7 billion, speeding up a deal that had not been expected until at least late 2014.
Analysts said Comcast was getting a good deal at that price, while Comcast's chief executive said the company moved because it was eager to take control of the business sooner than planned.
Comcast bought 51 percent of NBC Universal in 2011 after winning antitrust approval from the Justice Department. The transaction created a $30 billion business that includes broadcast, cable networks, movie studios and theme parks.
"Pretty much in our opinion given that media stocks have gone up quite a bit, it's a very attractive price, a fair price because we had a formula buyout," Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said in an interview. "We feel many good things coming today and in the future and we wanted to get 100 percent of that for our shareholders."
In addition to the main deal, NBCUniversal will also buy from GE Capital the properties it uses at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, for about $1.4 billion.
Comcast said it would fund the deal with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4 billion in senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2 billion in credit facility borrowings and the issuance of $725 million in subsidiary preferred stock to GE.
Separately, Comcast said it would increase its dividend by 20 percent and that it would buy back $2 billion in stock this year. GE also said it would accelerate its own share buy-back program to $10 billion this year.
"It's an attractive price - Comcast is getting a good deal," Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan said.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, Jennifer Saba and Peter Lauria in New York, Diane Bartz in Washington and A. Ananthalakshmi in Bangalore; Writing by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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