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General Electric buys Vivendi media empire

French conglomerate Vivendi has finally agreed a sale for its entertainment business, with the media empire - including Universal Studios and Vivendi Universal Games - being sold to General Electric in a multi-billion dollar deal.

French conglomerate Vivendi has finally agreed a sale for its entertainment business, with the media empire being sold to General Electric in a multi-billion dollar deal - but one which does not include the games division.

The deal will see the media assets of the company being merged with General Electric's own media division, NBC, in a move which will create one of the largest media companies in the world.

Specifics of what will happen to the various divisions of the company following the sale are as yet unclear; it's thought that General Electric may seek to sell off some assets, such as the Universal theme parks business.

The Vivendi Universal Games division, however, is not part of the sale, with Vivendi holding on to this asset after failing to find a separate buyer for it earlier in the year, despite early interest from parties including Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive.

Vivendi is also thought to have considered a separate flotation of the games unit, which houses a number of subsidiaries such as publishing label Sierra and developer Blizzard, but these plans have also now been shelved.

It's expected that Vivendi Universal Games will now continue to operate as a division of Vivendi, at least for the time being - a move which should give the publisher a welcome degree of stability over the Christmas period.

The deal with General Electric values Vivendi's entertainment and media companies at around $14 billion, and will see GE taking an 80 per cent stake in the newly merged media empire, while Vivendi continues to hold 20 per cent. The new NBC Universal conglomerate will be worth some $43 billion.

Update #1: Corrected points regarding status of Vivendi Universal Games

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