Inside Move: NBC closing in on U

Combined structure to be revealed in May

NBC is expected to formally close its long-awaited merger with Universal by May 11, putting ink to a deal that should significantly boost Peacock profits over the next two years.

And after months of closed-door “integration meetings” and internal wrangling over jobs and responsibilities, the Peacock is due to announce the new structure for NBC Universal at a Town Hall meeting May 13.

NBC already has identified an immediate $100 million in cost-saving synergies, the bulk of which is expected to come out of back-office consolidation and staff cuts.

With a pristine image for buying and then integrating its prey, GE has kept a tight lid on any dissension that may be accompanying the process of knitting together Universal and NBC. However, last week the first chinks in GE’s armor appeared after the company lost its two TV syndication execs in what insiders describe as a major human relations bungle.

NBC last week received final clearance from the Federal Trade Commission to consummate the merger. At close, NBC will pay Vivendi around $3.6 billion in cash and assume some $1.8 billion in debt. Vivendi will retain a 20% stake in the new combined entity, with options to cash out over the next decade.

Sources said there may be a last-minute buyout settlement between the Peacock and Barry Diller’s InteractiveCorp. Diller will be cashing out his own 1.5% stake in VUE for $255 million next month, and a deal may be under way for InteractiveCorp.’s 5.4% stake.

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