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Televisa nixes Cablevision sale

MEXICO CITY – Media conglom Televisa has confirmed it is no longer seeking to sell its 51% stake in pay TV subsid Cablevision to Mexico’s telephone monopoly Telmex.

Telmex – which already owns 49% of the cabler – and Televisa have both informed the federal monopolies commission (CFC) that they no longer seek to complete the long-in-the-works deal.

The companies opted to nix the sale once it was clear that the CFC would impose onerous conditions on Telmex’s ownership of the 200,000-subscriber network. The conditions were to include access to the network for any other telco that wished to use it, a Televisa source said.

The sale’s termination is a disappointment for Televisa, which had been looking forward to fourth-quarter net proceeds of $165 million from the sale, analysts concurred.

But the news is not a fundamental blow to the company, said Pablo Riveroll, a Mexico-based analyst with Merrill Lynch. With its other divestments (including the pending sale of most of its 40% stake in satellite operator PanAmSat to Hughes) and its healthy upfront ad sales, Televisa is in good financial shape, he said.

The Televisa source said the company would now seek with Telmex to maximize Cablevision’s potential as a distribution system and to raise its subscriber base, which has failed to grow since 1993.

Televisa is a partner (with News Corp. and others) in Latino satcaster Sky – expected to launch here later this month or in early 1997 – and the company intends to make Sky available via cable to those Cablevision customers already equipped with decoder boxes.

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