A&E Television Networks will take over management of Lifetime Entertainment Services in a merger announced Thursday.

Lifetime is jointly owned by Burbank’s Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp. A&E is jointly owned by Disney and Universal City’s NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co. Lifetime and A&E cable networks are based in New York City.

Under the merger, the three corporate parents – Disney, Hearst and NBC Universal – will share ownership of A&E and Lifetime.

The deal consolidates some the nation's top cable networks under a single management. The new A&E Television Networks will include A&E Network, History, Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Bio, History International, Lifetime Real Women, History en Español, Military History and Crime & Investigation Network. The combined networks reach more than 250 million homes worldwide in more than 40 countries.

The parent company will retain the name A&E Television Networks LLC, and its subsidiary will retain the name Lifetime Entertainment Services LLC. A&E Chief Executive Abbe Raven will become head of the combined company, with Lifetime CEO Andrea Wong continuing to run Lifetime Networks.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The agreement includes a provision allowing NBC Universal to exit A&E Television Networks in the next 15 years, leaving Disney and Hearst as joint owners.

Disney shares closed up 1 cent, or less than 1 percent, to $27.01 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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