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Source: Little Impact Felt in Home Video After NBC/VUE Merger

12 May, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Consummation of the merger between Vivendi Universal's entertainment division, VUE, and NBC, a unit of General Electric, is not expected to result in layoffs within related home entertainment divisions, according to a source familiar with the deal.

Media reports have suggested that up to 300 personnel would lose their jobs when the two companies combine similar units.

The new media company, called NBC Universal, which would have had $13 billion in revenue in 2003, has estimated assets of about $43 billion, with GE owning 80 percent, and 20 percent owned by VUE shareholders.

“There are always ongoing shifts of areas,” said the source regarding executive and divisional handling of various home entertainment properties.

“They are swapping, which is not really a restructuring,” said the source. “You are ending up with the same number of people.”

A Universal Studio Home Entertainment spokesperson referred calls to corporate spokespeople in New York, who were not available for comment at press time.

At the time of the announced merger, another source familiar with the deal cautioned that any changes in home video distribution wouldn't happen for a while due to licensing agreements already in place.

“‘Friends' [on DVD] is [distributed by Warner Home Video], and there's nothing [USHV] can do about it,” said the source.

NBC chairman and CEO Bob Wright is heading the new company and will remain as vice chairman of GE.

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission said that it would not oppose the proposed merger.

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