Televisa buys into Panamsat

Mexico’s private TV giant, Televisa, has bought a 50% share in Connecticut-based Panamsat private satellite banner, wholly owned by Rene Anselmo. Move is seen as part of an ongoing effort by Televisa owner Emilio Azcarraga to expand globally.

Pricetag for the purchase is $ 200 million, which gives Azcarraga a 50% senior equity position in Panamsat.

The deal was announced as being a limited partnership. A Panamsat rep told Daily Variety that the actual value of the company is closer to $ 500 million.

The FCC approved the Televisa investment in the U.S. company on Jan. 3, despite strong opposition from another U.S. group called Orion, which has U.S. and British backing and also is planning to set a private communications satellite into orbit.

Orion argued that Azcarraga, a Mexican national, would actually be pulling the strings of the operation. However Panamsat said Anselmo will have sole responsibility for the management and operations of the Panamsat Global Satellite System.

Azcarraga’s move into Panamsat comes shortly after his entry as a minority partner in the U.S. Hispanic TV network Univision. His partners in Univision are Venezuela’s Cisneros group and American financier Jerrold Perenchio, who bought Univision from the Hallmark Co. Jan. 1.

Anselmo was formerly partnered with Azcarraga in the Spanish Intl. Network and SICC. After 25 years of successful operation, the web and stations were deemed illegal by the FCC and Azcarraga, the major shareholder, was forced to sell them in 1986.

The Panamsat satellite, the first private U.S. bird put into orbit, has proved a phenomenal success due to the huge increase over the past two years of programming being beamed to Latin America, including HBO Ole, ESPN, CNN, Sur, Space and TNT, with others such as Fox and UIP poised to start this year.

The signals are then picked up by cable systems, each paying anywhere from 25 cents to $ 2 per subscriber per month. Most important systems are located in Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina.

Panamsat estimates 1992 revenue of $ 39 million, with a pre-tax income of about $ 17.5 million.

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