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SCi close to deal with NBC Universal?

UK publisher SCi may be close to finalising a deal that could make NBC Universal a majority stakeholder

SCi Entertainment may be close to finalising a GBP 50 million (USD 100 million) placing and rights issue that could see NBC Universal become a major shareholder in the company.

According to The Financial Times, SCi is in talks with Time Warner about potentially increasing its 10 per cent stake in the company or bringing in NBC Universal, which is owned jointly by GE and Vivendi of France, as a significant minority shareholder.

SCi has declined to comment, but the Financial Times is reporting that a deal with one or the other could be concluded as early as within the next few weeks.

SCi CEO Phil Rogers took over in January after shareholders forced the prior management team to resign following unsuccesful takeover talks.

Last month, Rogers indicated that the company needed to raise GBP 45 - 55 million (USD 90 - 110 million) in additional working capital and suggested that it would raise the money through a strategic partnership - similar to one it made with Time Warner in 2006.

A deal with Time Warner or NBC Universal could be a precursor to a full takeover of the company in due course, but the Times reports that this is not currently under discussion.

Update: SCi's Board issued an announcement on April 21 confirming that it is "considering a placing and open offer in the near future" in order to raise the working capital it indicated was necessary when it reported interim results in February.

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