The merger of Vivendi Universal's US entertainment assets and General Electric unit NBC is on after the two parties announced a deal on Wednesday.

After a protracted auction of its stateside portfolio, French media giant Vivendi entered into exclusive negotiations with GE last month [WAMN: 04-Sep-03], but the two have only now signed a definitive agreement.

As expected, the two firms will forge a new media powerhouse named NBC Universal, of which GE/NBC will own 80% and Vivendi the remaining 20%.

The deal combines GE assets such as the NBC television network and Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo with Vivendi units like Universal Pictures. The resulting group will generate annual revenues of around $13 billion (€11.0bn; £7.8bn) and have an estimated value of $43bn.

Vivendi will receive $3.3bn under the deal, and NBC will take on $1.7bn of its partner's debt. The French group has been frantically trying to reduce its debt burden since the ousting of former ceo and arch dealmaker Jean-Marie Messier last year.

Data sourced from: Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff