Monday 9 March 2020 6:40 pm

NBCUniversal quietly offloads $500m Snapchat stake

NBCUniversal has quietly offloaded its $500m (£381m) stake in Snapchat as the US media giant ramps up preparations for its new streaming service.

Parent company Comcast acquired the shareholding in March 2017 when Snap completed its initial public offering. The investment was passed to NBCUniversal, which then quietly sold off the stake last year.

Read more: Snap stumbles after missing revenue expectations

NBCUniversal posted a gain of $293m on the sale in 2019 but a $263m loss the previous year, according to regulatory documents filed in January but first reported today by the Hollywood Reporter.

The New York-based media conglomerate did not give a reason for the divestment, but it is understood the two companies will continue to work together on advertising partnerships and programming projects.

It comes as media rivals pump more and more money into new programming as the race to pull ahead in the streaming wars heats up.

In 2018 Comcast bought Sky for $39bn after fending off Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in a fierce bidding war.

Comcast has since begun the process of combining the British pay-TV operator with NBC Universal. Sky and NBC News have unveiled plans for a new international news service, dubbed NBC Sky World News, which is set to launch this summer.

NBCUniversal has also committed $2bn to its upcoming Peacock video streaming service, which will carry more 15,000 hours of content.

The service, which launches in the UK next month, will boast the network’s top shows, such as Parks & Recreation and The Office, as well as film favourites including the Bourne and Fast & Furious franchises.

Last week ViacomCBS confirmed it was preparing a sale of its publishing division Simon & Schuster as it focuses efforts on the firm’s Pluto TV streaming service.

Read more: Snapchat says it fact checks political ads in dig at rival Facebook

Meanwhile, Disney has confirmed the full slate of titles for the upcoming launch of Disney Plus, which is expected to pose a major new challenge to Netflix.

Snapchat declined to comment. NBCUniversal has been contacted for comment.

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