NBCUniversal bags $178M as it cashes in surging Peloton shares

NBCUniversal has sold a $178 million stake in stationary-bike company Peloton, whose shares have lately been surging because of the coronavirus crisis.

The Comcast-owned broadcaster — an early investor in Peloton, which went public last September — has been looking at its portfolio of investments as it seeks to shore up its cash reserves amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday, NBCUniversal said it sold about half of its stake in Peloton, whose exercise bikes and live-streaming workout videos have become popular as the coronavirus keeps fitness freaks holed up at home.

Peloton shares are up more than 50 percent since mid-March, when the coronavirus began to spur lockdowns that emptied office buildings nationwide. On Tuesday, they were recently up 0.6 percent at $31.25.

NBCUniversal, led by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Shell, sold 5.2 million shares for $34.21 each, not far below their 52-week high of $38.08. NBCU still holds more than 5.1 million shares in Peloton. It is not immediately clear whether NBCU intends to hold on to those shares or liquidate them.

The media and entertainment giant participated in Peloton’s private Series E and Series F funding rounds in 2017 and 2018. NBCUniversal also partnered with Peloton on content, including some streaming some classes in 2018 from PyeongChang, South Korea, during the Winter Olympics.

NBCU owned 19.1 percent of Peloton’s shares as of Oct. 31; however, the fitness company has significantly expanded its share base after the initial public offering, which would suggest that NBCU’s stake was effectively below 4 percent, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Peloton’s lockup period for insiders expired in late February, allowing certain employees and early investors to begin selling their stakes, the trade publication said.

The Peloton sale is the second major recent stock sale from NBCU. The company sold its $500 million stake in Snap last year, reporting a gain of $293 million in fiscal 2019.

With debt obligations stemming from its acquisition of Sky and billions of dollars committed to its nascent Peacock streaming service, the media giant decided that its cash would be best put to use on internal efforts, rather than an investment in an outside company, the firm said.

Comcast also raised $4 billion in debt in March in response to the coronavirus crisis to boost its liquidity.

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