Jeff Zucker tries to calm the NBC Universal troops but doesn’t show his cards


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NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker issued a companywide memo to calm down the staff in response to the news Wednesday that cable giant Comcast Corp. has had some flirtations with NBC about buying a stake. (See our previous coverage.)

In his update, Zucker doesn’t really provide much of an update other than to say ‘given the attractive nature of our assets, there is always significant interest in NBC Universal.’ He does note that much of this speculation has been heating up because of uncertainty over French telecommunications conglomerate Vivendi’s plans for its 20% stake in NBC Universal. For more on the talks, see our story


Here is a copy of the memo:

By now, you have probably seen or heard stories regarding the ownership of NBC Universal, most recently a flurry of stories in the last day involving Comcast. Stories spread quickly in this new information age, so let me take this opportunity to share an update with you, as best as I can as of today.

Not surprisingly, given the attractive nature of our assets, there is always significant interest in NBC Universal. That has been amplified lately by the annual discussion with Vivendi about its 20% ownership of our company. Vivendi has been a superb owner of NBC Universal, along with GE, for more than five years. They have not yet made us aware of any final decisions about their future with us; should they choose to exit, there are a number of possible things that could happen. It is our longstanding policy not to comment on rumors, and we have adhered to that policy in connection with these rumors.

As distracting as it may be to hear and read about potential changes to our ownership structure, nothing is more important than keeping this company strong. So, we all have to do our best to keep our focus on our day-to-day operations, and continue to deliver the kinds of results that have made this one of the premier media companies in the world. It is an exciting time, and these are exciting possibilities. There is no better team to face the challenges – and opportunities -- of the future than the group we have assembled here. I do appreciate that these stories often cause anxiety. But, really, the only thing for each of us to do is to do our jobs with the same focus we always have. Thanks, and you will continue to hear from me when there are updates.

In the meanwhile, Comcast’s stock has taken a beating this morning, falling 7% to $15.69 on the news that it again wants to get bigger. It’s deja vu for the cable company, which five years ago made a run for Walt Disney Co., a play that also was not met warmly by Wall Street.

-- Joe Flint