Executives at Universal Orlando can breathe a little easier this evening now that Comcast has agreed to pay The Blackstone Group $1.025 billion for its 50% stake in the theme park. The deal consolidating ownership at Comcast-controlled NBCUniversal means the park will be able to hang on to licensing agreements with other entertainment companies — including one with Warner Bros for a Harry Potter attraction — that might have been lost if the ownership had changed. Blackstone said in March that it wanted to sell its stake, which triggered a clause in its contract that gave Comcast until June 12 to decide whether it would exercise its right of first refusal. The investment firm ended up tripling the investment in the park that it made in 2000. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke says the agreement “confirms our long-term commitment to Universal Orlando and the theme park business.” The companies expect the deal to close on July 1. Comcast will finance it with cash at NBCUniversal, the entertainment company’s line of credit, and a one-year $400 million note that Comcast is providing to NBCU — a joint venture with General Electric. NBCU will wind up owning Universal Orlando’s Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and the Universal CityWalk.
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