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June 7, 2011 1:42 PM

NBCUniversal to Buy Remaining Universal Orlando Stake for $1 Billion

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

UPDATE: 6/7/11, 5:40 p.m., Further information on Skadden's past representation of Blackstone has been added in the fifth paragraph.

NBCUniversal, Inc., announced Monday that it will consolidate its ownership of Universal Orlando, buying the 50 percent stake in the theme park unit that it does not already own from private equity firm The Blackstone Group.

NBCUniversal agreed to pay $1.025 billion to obtain full ownership of all Universal Orlando parks, which include Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and Universal CityWalk. To finance the deal--which is expected to close on July 1--NBCUniversal said that it will use a combination of cash, credit, and a one-year $400 million note from an affiliate of its majority owner, Comcast Corporation.

NBCUniversal is relying on a New York-based team from Davis Polk & Wardwell led by corporate partners David Caplan and William Aaronson for counsel on the transaction. While NBCUniversal has traditionally turned to Weil, Gotshal & Manges as outside deal counsel--including on acquisitions such as those the Weather Channel and Oxygen Media--Davis Polk advised Comcast on its $30 billion acquisition of a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal from General Electric in 2009. (Caplan was named Dealmaker of the Week in connection with that deal.)

Partners Avishai Shachar and Neil Barr are tax counsel on the deal, and partner Arthur Burke is providing antitrust advice. Richard Cotton is general counsel for NBCUniversal.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom M&A partners Allison Schneirov and Mark Smith represented Blackstone in New York. Schneirov and Smith previously advised on Blackstone's acquisition of its Universal Studios stake for $275 million in 2000. The same Skadden team also advised a private equity consortium led by Blackstone that acquired Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. for $17.6 billion in 2006.

Blackstone's chief legal officer John Finley formerly headed up the global M&A practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett before joining the private equity firm in September

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