Televisa Reported Closing In on Univision Purchase

Apr 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa is said to be close to structuring a deal to buy Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications, according to a report in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

At the same time, a New York Times report Thursday said a number of large media companies, including CBS Corp. and The Walt Disney Co., have met with Univision’s management about a possible bid.

The reports illustrate the strong interest that Univision, the No. 1 Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States, is generating since announcing earlier this year that it was considering a sale as majority shareholder and Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio, at 75, looks to get out of the business. Some estimates peg the final price at between $12 billion and $14 billion.

None of the companies involved in a potential deal are commenting on the reports or the status of the negotiations.

According to the Journal report, which cites people familiar with the situation, Televisa’s board could meet as soon as Thursday to vote on whether to pursue a bid for Univision. Televisa has long been considered a likely bidder, in part because it holds an 11 percent stake in Univision and because it has a multiyear agreement to supply Univision with the television shows that have driven Univision’s ratings success over the years.

However, because of U.S. rules restricting the foreign ownership of broadcasters in this country, Televisa would have to team with a U.S. partner to make a bid for Univision.

Several press reports over the past several weeks, including Thursday’s report in the Journal, have indicated Televisa is looking to partner with private equity firms to make that bid. According to the Journal, Televisa has talked with as many as 10 such firms, including Providence Equity Partners, Blackstone Group, Madison Dearborn Partners, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

Meanwhile, the Times is reporting that executives of CBS and Disney have held meetings with Univision in preparation for a possible bid, though the article makes clear that either company could walk away from making an offer.

Despite the mention of CBS as a possible bidder, most of Wall Street has discounted the possibility of CBS going solo for the purchase. As CBS executives themselves have noted, Univision’s price is more than they are willing to pay. In addition, the company might face regulatory hurdles to completing a deal, given the number of television and radio stations that both companies own and the ownership limits currently imposed by the Federal Communications Commission.