Pressure on GE to Sell NBCU Grows

Apr 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

With General Electric’s stock hitting four-year lows, the calls urging the company to sell off units including NBC Universal are becoming a chorus, the New York Times reports. GE announced lower-than-expected earnings last week and selling NBC Universal would generate billions of dollars and allow the company to focus on booming locomotive, jet engine and power turbine businesses, the newspaper says. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt is also being criticized on TV by his predecessor Jack Welch, the Wall Street Journal says.


  1. Don’t you just love Wall Street thinking?
    GE is, and has been, making billions for ever. But let a negative percentage point show up anywhere on the projected-estimated profit ledger and good bye.
    Now we all know that NBC-Universal makes money for the insatiable, greedy appetite of the mother-corp. But no, let’s sell it off, take the billions, pay the hundreds of millions in legal fees to all the attorneys who get near the transaction, get rid of hundreds of employees we “don’t need” and give GE top executives millions in bonuses for “the money they made & saved” for the company.
    Ah, America, The Corporation, 2008.
    Tick-tock, tick-tock, forward into the past.
    Once it’s all over perhaps NBC-Universal will be better off not owing their souls to the Huns in Connecticut.
    Unfortunately, I foresee a bloodbath of many people losing jobs and all that goes with this all-too-often repeated scenario.
    End result, no real improvement of NBC, or GE, with millions going into the pockets of a few, while hundreds face unemployment and potential economic peril.
    The Peacock deserves a better keeper.
    Peter Bright

  2. Very erudite comments, Mr. Bright. Furthermore, what is the plan for the proceeds of such a sale? GE already has plenty of cash. NBC is profitable, although at this point not growing so fast as everyone would like, but then what is growing fast at the moment? Lastly, any sale of NBC at this time would be less lucrative than during healthier economic periods.

  3. I don’t get that.
    Why sell off something that’s actually generating money? I’ve seen a lot of foolish things in my life. A pair of music channels no longer showing music videos in a wide capacity. An animation channel pitching and airing more live-action fare. Haven’t seen a comedy channel break down and show the complete works of Jane Eyre, but I’m sure it’s coming as us a sports channel airing fashion-oriented programming.
    NBC Universal makes money. It’s a fareweather brand and an institution. I don’t think GE would actually sell off the 80% of the company they own.
    Still if they did, who would buy it? Google? Even though they actually have the funds to do so and would actually utilize the libraries and ventures the company owns worldwide, I don’t think they would, though I never thought America Online would buy Time Warner either.
    And we all know how successful THAT venture was (hint: it wasn’t, and there’s a reason the company’s not called AOL Time Warner anymore). But if they did, it’d be seen as another “Screw you” to Microsoft, who actually owns (owned?) a piece of MSNBC as well as MSNBC.com, NBC News’s main site, and plans on introducing their FLV-killer with NBC’s Olympics website this August.
    Google is already imposing with a verb, the search engine, YouTube, Blogger, and other sites we can’t live without. Google with a major broadcast network, a legendary news operation, a major Hollywood production studio, countless film and television franchises, a theme park chain, and a piece of a legitimate video service, that’s scary.

  4. GE’s ownership of media is a very strategic compliment to their portfolio. As a major government and defence contractor having a major media brand is an entirely complimentary component to their overall business. Having read the New York Times article it seems more likely that they would sell GE Capital or their appliance division to return much needed cash rather than diminish their media properties. Long term influence over public opinion will yield better results for them than the proceeds from the sale of NBCU. Given the current credit crunch I would say that their credit division is the likely sale.
    If Wall Street wants some flesh then feed them an arm or a leg, but not the tongue!

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