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NBC Completes Its Universal Deal

NBC closed its deal to merge with the Universal entertainment businesses Wednesday, creating a new media conglomerate that will take its place alongside giants such as Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc.

The new company, to be known as NBC Universal, will be led mainly by NBC executives including Bob Wright, the NBC chairman who will become chairman and CEO of the company. Wright will also continue as vice chairman of General Electric Co., NBC's parent company.

The deal brings together television's top-rated network among the 18-49 age group, which advertisers try hardest to reach; a major movie studio; a television production studio; a handful of cable TV channels including USA, Sci-Fi, CNBC and Bravo; and 29 television stations.

Wright said the combination presented a "tremendous growth opportunity for our viewers, advertisers, employees, and GE shareowners."

While not as diverse or large as some of the other major conglomerates, NBC Universal will own several top-quality properties, not least of which is the powerful "Law & Order" franchise, a cash cow for NBC that is produced by Universal's television arm.

The deal also gives NBC a major TV studio, ensuring the network a stable pipeline of future shows and giving it more bargaining power among other media conglomerates in negotiating for shows of its own.

GE will own 80 percent of NBC Universal, while the French media and telecommunications conglomerate Vivendi Universal will own the remaining 20 percent. Vivendi is also getting $3.4 billion in cash in the deal.

Ron Meyer, the head of Universal Studios, will remain at the company as head of the Hollywood studio as well as its associated theme parks.