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Comcast to buy out GE’s interest in NBCUniversal

Comcast Corp. is buying out General Electric’s shares of NBCUniversal for about $16.7 billion -- taking full control of the New York media company.

The purchase comes two years after Comcast acquired 51 percent interest in the media company, leaving GE with a 49% stake. The purchase will end GE’s ownership of NBC, which dates back more than 25 years.

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Comcast also will acquire the midtown Manhattan headquarters of NBCUniversal at the legendary 30 Rockefeller Plaza as well as the CNBC headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for about $1.4 billion. 

Comcast had an option to buy out GE in July 2014, but its accelerated purchase indicates that Comcast is pleased with how the media company is performing. Comcast sees financial upside in the media company.

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“Our decision to acquire GE’s ownership is driven by our sense of optimism for the future prospects of NBCUniversal and our desire to capture future value that we hope to create for our shareholders,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

The acquisition will be funded with $11.4 billion in cash on hand, largely generated by NBCUniversal’s cash flow, proceeds from the sale of its stake in A&E; networks and Comcast’s sale of wireless spectrum. The company is also using $4 billion in senior unsecured notes and the company will borrow an additional $2 billion.

The deal is expected to close by the end of March.

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