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EU approves Comcast buy of NBC Universal

US cable provider Comcast won EU regulatory clearance for a landmark deal to buy a controlling stake in General Electric's NBC Universal.

The deal would create a media superpower with control of how television shows and movies are made and how they are delivered to homes. NBC owns TV networks, a movie studio and theme parks.

Under the agreement, Comcast will provide $6.5 billion in cash, its own cable TV networks and other assets in return for a 51% stake in NBC Universal. GE will keep the remaining 49%.

“After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area,” the European Union's competition watchdog, the European Commission, said in a statement.

Comcast, the No. 1 US cable operator, said in December it had reached a deal with GE to create a joint venture between its cable networks unit and NBC Universal, which owns cable networks USA, MSNBC and CNBC as well as the NBC broadcast network.

US regulators are also reviewing the deal, which has been criticized by consumer and public interest groups in the United States amid concerns that it could mean higher prices for consumers.

An influential US senator said in May that he wanted Comcast to be required to divest its 32% stake in online video site, considered to be the digital jewel of the transaction, if regulators cleared the deal. (Reuters)