By Gwénaëlle Barzic and Jessica Toonkel
PARIS/NEW YORK (Reuters) – NBCUniversal, the U.S. media conglomerate owned by Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O>, said on Thursday it was in talks to buy a stake in European broadcaster Euronews.
Euronews’ supervisory board has mandated Chief Executive Michael Peters to conduct exclusive talks with the aim of finding an agreement by the end of the year, a source close to Euronews management told Reuters.
Under a possible plan, NBC News – part of NBCUniversal – would look to strengthen Euronews’ offerings, while NBCUniversal could use the transaction as a first step to expanding its operations on the European continent.
NBC would take a stake of between 15 percent and 30 percent in Euronews, the source said.
A spokesman for NBC News said it is “in discussions with Euronews about a potential investment and collaborative partnership between the two,” but did not provide any details.
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, who owns 53 percent of the broadcaster’s shares following a 35 million euro ($38.1 million) capital increase last year, would remain the controlling shareholder in Euronews, the source added.
Created in 1993, Euronews broadcasts in 13 languages and covers 155 countries.
Initially conceived in the wake of the 1990 Gulf War as a ‘European CNN,’ it used to be owned by a consortium of state-owned European channels, which became minority shareholders after the arrival of Sawiris.
Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in stages for about $30 billion, completing its takeover in 2011.
($1 = 0.9182 euros)
(Editing by Bill Rigby)