Articles of the Day


Will GE’s Buffett Cash Quell NBC Sale Talks? — In case you haven’t been following it, shares of GE have been taking it bad lately. On one side, you have the industrial division, highly exposed to a slowing economy and any difficulty among customers in financing big purchases. The other side is finance, and everyone fears it’s sitting on a hand grenade. In a bid to stem the decline and reassure the markets, the company took a $3 billion investmemt from Warren Buffett, in part to raise cash, and in part to say “Look, The Oracle trusts us!” It also announced a $12 billion common stock offering—diluting current shareholders, but giving it an injection of much-desired cash. So where does this leave its 80 percent-owned NBCU unit, which fits awkwardly between the industrial and finance sides. Besides the fact that GE executives are pretty consistent about not wanting to sell it, the fresh capital raise diminishes the need to move the unit. Beyond that, you have to wonder who would be the buyer here. A year ago, it was estimated that the business could be worth around $40 billion, but it’s probably declined a bit since then, given the diminished valuations among its peers.

Msnbc.com Offers Self-Service Via AdReady — Msnbc.com is jumping on the self-service online display ad bandwagon via a partnership with AdReady. The news Web site is in good company, joining a slew of others that are now offering the DIY option including Yahoo, The New York Times, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, NaturalPath Media, Zillow and Trulia. AdReady, the Seattle-based technology company which powers the ad platform, also works with Yahoo and the Times.

Signs Of Life For Sling’s Video Portal, Other Services; Sling.com Starts Limited Beta — Nearly two years after Sling Media announced it had a video portal and the Clip+Sling video sharing in development, the services are finally nearing release. First up, a private beta of the Sling.com video portal started today, although not private enough since TechCrunch has the invite. At the core, it’s SlingPlayer for Slingbox customers built into the site along with content from over 60 partners. It’s not part of the beta yet, as SlingPlayer 2.0 doesn’t currently incorporate it, but Clip+Sling is coming too, according to Sling’s Brian Jaquet. Clip+Sling allows users to record and share video via the portal. Next up: SlingCatcher, announced last year, ships later this month; it allows TV to be shown room-to-room and brings online content—including the premium content from Sling.com—to TV.

Reed’s RBI Sell-Off In The Balance? A Victim Of Credit Crunch? — When Reed Elsevier last spoke on the subject, it told the market it hoped to sell off its Reed Business Information (RBI) B2B publishing unit as early as October. But that was August – in the intervening period, a little thing has happened called “the credit crunch”. Could the crunch munch the planned divestment, which Reed announced a whole seven months ago? paidContent:UK has been told Reed is finding it much harder to sell the Variety and New Scientist publisher than it was even three weeks ago. Not even a $1.6 billion “sweetener” loan offered to potential bidders is helping much. There’s now some question over whether the sell-off will go ahead at all, we understand.

On Second Take, Take-Two Decides To Remain Independent — Not that this wasn’t expected after last month, but Take-Two, after fighting off an unsolicited bid by EA and talking to other potential suitors, has decided to stay independent, or at least it has completed a formal strategic review for now. The publisher of Grand Theft Auto said its sees itself as “strongly positioned creatively, financially and competitively to benefit from the opportunities we see in the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry”. According to Ben Feder, the CEO, consider the cash position of the company strong: “Our strong cash position – with no debt and an undrawn USD140 million credit facility – gives us the financial flexibility to continue to do what we do best: innovate and create the great games that our customers have come to expect.”

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