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Goldman Sachs to leave crime scene, exit CSI?

November 29, 2012: 12:39 PM ET

Goldman Sachs (GS) has been part of the crime scene -- CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise, that is -- since 2007. Now, the investment banking behemoth may be ready to flee the scene.

After owning 50% of one of this decade's most popular television franchises, the bank's private equity arm, GS Capital Partners, is looking to make a quick getaway.

GS Capital Partners has been talking to potential buyers for weeks weeks, according to a source with knowledge of the process. Variety Magazine first reported the potential sale and said the bank is seeking $500 million, which could value the franchise at $1 billion. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Related: Why old media stocks are on top today

CBS (CBS), which owns the remaining 50%, controls all the creative elements and distribution of the franchise, and that arrangement is unlikely to be upended if Goldman sells its stake.

CSI launched in October 2000, with CSI: Las Vegas, which gained a strong following. CBS capitalized on that popularity with CSI: NY and CSI: Miami, which CBS canceled in May. That franchise now runs in syndication, as well as through Netflix (NFLX).

Goldman has made a series of forays into the entertainment space over the years. GS Capital Partners has held stakes in the Yankees' YES Network, which it recently sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWSA), as well as in Village Voice Media, a company that allegedly ran a site used for sex trafficking. GS Capital Partners exited Village Voice in April 2012.

As part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, banks have been forced to scale back investments in private equity. Going forward the bank can invest no more than 3% of a fund's overall capital. Ahead of the new rules, the bank invested between 15% and 30% of the fund's capital.

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