Tension at Televisa

Burillo's back; Canedo White may be out

MEXICO CITY — Rumors are flying fast and furious that the return of Alejandro Burillo Azcarraga to Televisa management may mean the ouster of a top-level exec at the media giant.

Following the death of Televisa chairman and owner Emilio Azcarraga Milmo in April, Burillo was rumored then to have muscled his way back into his uncle’s company. Burrillo’s re-entry into Televisa may be at the expense of Guillermo Canedo White, the chief corporate officer, and Canedo White’s brother Jose Antonio, director of corporate development, sources said.

“There are two possibilities,” said a Mexico City-based media analyst. “One, (the return of Burillo) is positive news signaling that despite the differences between Burillo and Canedo White, they are going to work together as a team. Or two, Burillo has finally won the battle for power.”

Burillo owns a 14% stake in Televisa. The Canedo White brothers together own 10%.

After a one-year absence from the Televisa team, Burillo, 38, will be made vice president of the board and personal adviser to his cousin, Televisa’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, Emilio Azcarraga Jean.

Azcarraga Jean, 29, took over as president and CEO in March, and was made chairman after his father’s death.

Televisa pushed Burillo out last year, apparently after he authorized the broadcast of a video that revealed a cover-up of a massacre by police in the state of Guerrero.

Under the leadership of Emilio Azcarraga Milmo, Televisa’s news coverage was considered pro-government.

Industry observers speculated that the Canedo White brothers were behind Burrillo’s departure, the analyst said.

“From my point of view, if the company is smart, they would not kick (Guillermo) Canedo White out,” the analyst said. “Investors trust Canedo.”

Canedo White, the former chief financial officer, is currently responsible for strategic planning, finance and corporate administration for Televisa. He was in the spotlight in May, outlining Televisa’s strategic plan at meetings with investors in New York, the analyst noted.

Another reason to keep Canedo White on is a private $100 million loan to the Televisa shareholder group, believed to be guaranteed by stock, that must be renegotiated by the end of the summer, he added. The departure of Canedo could complicate those negotiations and depress the stock price.

Televisa officials denied that the brothers are on their way out, the analyst added.

Burillo will also serve as president of international affairs and head a committee that will oversee soccer-related affairs. In addition, he will be appointed president of the executive committee of Televicentro, the private holding company which unites Televisa’s major investor families.

Televisa announced Burillo’s appointments during its evening news program “24 Horas” earlier this week, but a spokesman said no official statement will be issued until the board approves the changes at a June 23 meeting.

Burillo does have a lot of experience in the company and the industry, and could give valuable support to Azcarraga Jean, especially in operations, the analyst said. A prominent business columnist, Alberto Aguilar, suggested in the press Wednesday that the two cousins have “an excellent family relationship.”

Burrillo’s return does not necessarily mean radical changes in Televisa’s content, the analyst noted. “With the death of the father and the decline in ratings, Televisa’s programming is already changing,” he said.

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