Comcast's chief operating officer will take over as chief executive of NBC Universal once Comcast officially owns a 51 percent majority stake of the media giant, the companies announced today.
Steve Burke will replace NBC Universal CEO and President Jeff Zucker, who announced last week that he will leave the company after a 24-year career there. Until the Comcast deal is final, Zucker will work with Burke on the transition, according to Comcast and NBC Universal parent company GE. No other personnel announcements are expected until the deal closes, the companies added.
Although Zucker told his staff in an e-mail that the time was right for him to move on, his decision to leave wasn't purely voluntary, according to The New York Times. Zucker told the Times that his departure was inevitable after a meeting two weeks ago with Burke.
"We had both gotten to the same place," Zucker told the Times. "He made it clear that they wanted to move on at the close of the deal and I was completely comfortable with that."
Burke joined Comcast in 1998 as the president of Comcast Cable and is credited by the company as a driving force in its growth to become the country's largest cable provider. Beyond overseeing Comcast's products and services, Burke supervises the company's programming networks, advertising business, and Comcast Interactive Media.
Before joining Comcast, Burke worked for Disney in several positions, including president of ABC Broadcasting and president and COO of Euro Disney. He also played a key role in developing the company's Disney Stores.
"Steve Burke is an experienced, talented and visionary leader with over 25 years in the media and entertainment industry," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. "Steve is one of the most well-respected executives in the industry, and I am confident that he will lead NBCU forward to a new era of growth."
In other news on the Comcast front, French media company Vivendi has finalized the sale of its 7.66 percent stake of NBC Universal to GE for $2 billion. The remaining amount of Vivendi's portion--12.34 percent--will be sold to GE for $3.8 billion once the deal with Comcast has been completed. Vivendi's sale of its stake in NBC Universal was key to clearing the way for GE to sell a majority stake of the media giant to Comcast.
Once the deal closes, GE will have the option to sell the remaining 49 percent of the company to Comcast over seven years.