Univision Sale Talks Underway (Report)

Univision, the country's biggest Spanish-language network, is looking to sell.

According to a published report on Thursday from the Wall Street Journal, the network's owners have begun discussions with major media companies. The network has previously looked to sell.

The network's current owners, including Haim Saban, have had "preliminary discussions" with several groups including CBS (CBS) and Time Warner (TWX).

The Journal story indicates that Univision is looking to sell for about $20 billion. Besides Saban Capital Group, Univision's owners include TPG Capital, Dearborn Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners, and Providence Equity Partners.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts suggest that keeping Univision as a non-consolidated asset is in the best interest. Additionally, analysts add that "as long as a potential new partner at Univision keeps and eventually extends the existing program license agreement, there should be no major issue."

Grupo Televisa owns 37.5% stake in Univision through a direct equity stake and convertible debentures and receives 11.9% of Univision's revenues in royalties, which is expected to increase to 16.2% in 2018. This translates to Televisa's economic interest in Univision to close to 65% "without having the proportionate risk related to Univision's quite high leverage,” according to the report authored by BofA Merrill Lynch research analysts Mauricio Fernandes and Rodrigo Villanueva.

The report also suggests that an alternative to the potential sale would be to be a strategic partner through an IPO of the network.

Downside risks, according to the analysts, include increased competition and a slower-than-expected growth from the Mexican economy in addition to slower subscriber growth patterns.

Univision’s core Hispanic audience has placed the broadcaster in the forefront as a network with a portfolio that includes television and radio operations.

Headquartered in New York, the network is carried by more than 1,400 broadcast and cable affiliates. The company also owns and operates nearly 60 local broadcast TV stations. Univision Radio has 68 stations. They company, which has major online presence, was founded in 1961 as Spanish International Network.

A Univision spokesperson declined comment for this story.


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