Azteca TV going public

MEXICO CITY — TV Azteca will be going public within a few months, according to a well-placed industry source.

Reports have been circulating that Mexico’s No. 2 broadcaster would be selling about one-third of the company in an initial public offering on both the local stock exchange and in New York. “The press reports are mostly right,” the source said.

TV Azteca officials have declined to comment on plans for an IPO.

Ricardo Salinas Pliego, chairman and majority owner, and his partners valued the two channels that comprise TV Azteca at $500 million when they purchased them from the government in 1993. One analyst estimates the company is now worth $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion.

The Salinas Pliego family, via its investment arm Azteca Holdings, now controls 66% of TV Azteca after issuing some bonds and buying out some bank investors. The IPO is believed in part to be a means of allowing fellow founders Moises and Alberto Saba to cash out.

The source emphatically rejected rumors of a rift between the founding partners, as had been rumored in June. At that time, TV Azteca issued a press release to deny the gossip.

The Saba son and father will concentrate on their soccer interests and Moises Saba (the son) will retain an executive position within the company, the source said.

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