Exex may exit Televisa

MEXICO CITY — The Canedo White brothers are on their way out of Televisa, sources within and without the giant broadcaster said Tuesday.

Rumors surfaced more than two weeks ago that top execs Guillermo and Jose Antonio Canedo White would fall victim to an internal power struggle at the media giant upon the return of Alejandro Burillo Azcarraga to the Televisa management.

Following the death of Televisa chairman and owner Emilio Azcarraga Milmo in April, Burillo was rumored then to have muscled his way back in to his uncle’s company at the expense of the Canedo Whites. Their father, Guillermo Canedo de la Barcena was a senior executive and right-hand man of Azcarraga Milmo until the former’s death.

“There’s nothing official yet,” one financial analyst who specializes in media said. Televisa officials told him Guillermo Canedo White was not leaving, but then insisted to him that the company did not depend on just one person — a statement the analyst interpreted to mean the exec is being ousted. A Televisa press representative did not return phone calls Tuesday. (For that matter, the company has not even officially confirmed that Burillo Azcarraga has returned to the management team, despite a mention on the broadcaster’s evening newscast June 9.)

Guillermo Canedo White, executive vice president for strategic planning, finance and corporate administration, is very popular with investors and just last month presented the company’s plans for the next few years at a shareholders meeting in New York. He reportedly will be replaced by Gilberto Perez Alonso, currently the chief financial officer at Cifra, Mexico’s largest retailer.

However, Cifra officials denied that Perez Alonso was quitting, the analyst said.

“The market believes Canedo White is an asset, but it all depends on who replaces him,” he said. “The guy from Cifra has a good reputation for cutting costs and Televisa is a relatively fat company.”

“In the short-term this could have a slightly negative effect on the stock, but in the medium term it will be fairly neutral,” said analyst Pedro Riveroll of Merrill Lynch. “Investors are primarily looking at cutting costs and Televisa’s maintaining its ratings — those are the two key factors.”

He questioned Perez Alonso’s ability to manage Televisa’ complicated finances. “Cifra does not do very sophisticated finances, it has no bank debt, it has no use for investment bankers, it’s not listed in New York,” the analyst said. “I don’t see him there.”

Jose Antonio Canedo White’s fate was apparently sealed when Burillo Azcarraga was named chairman of the executive committee of Televicentro, the holding company that unites Televisa’s investor families. Jose Antonio had been chairman of Televicentro, where he also acted as a financial adviser for Televisa, an analyst said, but his position was seemingly undermined by Burillo Azcarraga’s appointment.

A third Canedo White brother, Pablo, has been president of the Televisa-owned soccer team, America, and is expected to fall with his brothers. Burillo Azcarraga also was named the director of all soccer-related projects. “The signs are there that he won’t have much to do,” Riveroll said.

Because the stock closed higher Tuesday, analysts speculated that the rumor of Canedo White’s departure may already be discounted by investors.

But the brothers could return, one said. “In these telenovelas you never know,” he said. “Maybe sometime in the future things will turn around.”

Analysts said they thought a lawsuit by the executives was unlikely.

A board meeting is expected to be held on June 30 to formalize the departure of Guillermo Canedo White.

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