Update 2:30 PM ET: CNBC's David Faber reports that GE and Comcast are in talks "about a deal in which GE would spin off its NBC Universal unit into a new company that would be merged with the content assets of Comcast."
Faber sources his report to "people familiar with the negotiations" and adds that the deal would give Comcast a 51% stake in NBC Universal.
Though, Faber adds, "the prospective deal is complex and is far from a certainty."
Watch Faber discuss his report on air:
Update 10:45 AM ET: NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker sent an email to employees Thursday morning saying that "there are a number of possible things that could happen" should Vivendi choose to sell its 20% stake, but not commenting on the Comcast rumor explicitly:
Not surprisingly, given the attractive nature of our assets, there is always significant interest in NBC Universal. That has been amplified lately by the annual discussion with Vivendi about its 20 percent ownership of our company. Vivendi has been a superb owner of NBC Universal, along with GE, for more than five years. They have not yet made us aware of any final decisions about their future with us; should they choose to exit, there are a number of possible things that could happen. It is our longstanding policy not to comment on rumors, and we have adhered to that policy in connection with these rumors. As distracting as it may be to hear and read about potential changes to our ownership structure, nothing is more important than keeping this company strong.
Read Zucker's full e-mail here.
Update 8:30 AM ET: Several reports Thursday further contradict Waxman's report that Comcast has hammered out a deal to buy NBC Universal for $35 billion.
Nikki Finke reports that Comcast is but one of a half dozen "tire-kickers" that General Electric has spoken to about a potential "investment in or acquisition of NBCU or just Vivendi's 20%." Finke calls Waxman's report "blog bullshit."
Bloomberg reports that Comcast is in talks to buy about 50% of NBC Universal — GE controls 80% and Vivendi controls the remaining 20%:
The New York Times' Bill Carter corroborates Finke's reporting, claiming that Comcast "was one of several companies in talks about potentially buying a stake in NBC Universal" but that no deal has been made. Further, Carter reports that executives briefed on the talks "said it was possible that Comcast would seek to acquire the 20 percent of NBC Universal that is controlled by Universal's former owner, the French company Vivendi."
AllThingsD's Peter Kafka quotes Comcast COO Steve Burke from a conference last month saying that Comcast would love to have more cable channels but that it isn't likely to make a mega-deal like the $35 billion deal Waxman reported was hammered out this week.
Original Post: The Wrap's Sharon Waxman reports that Comcast has hammered out a deal to buy NBC Universal from General Electric for $35 billion.
Waxman sources her item to "knowledgeable individuals," reporting that the deal was hammered out Tuesday by bankers for both organizations in New York:
Deal points were hammered out at a meeting among bankers for both sides in New York on Tuesday, executives familiar with the meeting said.
Two individuals informed about the meeting said that a deal had already been completed at a purchase price of $35 billion.
Comcast, however, has called Waxman's report "inaccurate," releasing the following statement:
While we do not normally comment on M&A rumors, the report that Comcast has a deal to purchase NBC Universal is inaccurate.
The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin reports that "people briefed on the matter also denied the report of an imminent deal."
The Los Angeles Times' Joe Flint reports that Comcast is in talks over NBC Universal — Flint uses the phrase "kicking the tires" — but not that a deal has been struck.
AllThingsD's Peter Kafka argues that the deal would make sense for Comcast:
Comcast is flush with cash, could presumably take on more debt if it wanted to, and has shown an interest in branching out into content before.