New Spanish ‘Vision

Televisa unloads Univision after failed bid

MEXICO CITY — Televisa topper Emilio Azcarraga Jean said Tuesday that Mexico’s largest broadcaster will sell off its share of U.S. partner Univision after losing out in last June’s auction of the network.

Televisa previously had said it would sell its 9.9% stake in Univision after a group of private equity firms led by media mogul Haim Saban and Providence Equity Partners won the bidding war with a $12.3 billion offer for the biggest U.S. Spanish-language web. But Televisa followed those comments by coyly suggesting it hadn’t ruled out making a bigger offer for Univision. The company formally ruled out another bid shortly before Univision shareholders voted to accept the Saban group offer in late September.

“Our share sale will go ahead,” Azcarraga told reporters at an event honoring Televisa-funded scholarships.

Televisa provides Univision with its top-rated primetime programming under a long-term supply deal that expires in 2017. But that alliance soured in recent years due to differences between Azcarraga and Univision chief A. Jerrold Perenchio.

So far, Televisa is showing no signs it will play nice with Univision’s new owners.

Televisa is seeking to end its deal with Univision in an L.A. district court and is asking in a separate lawsuit for the court to validate its interpretation of the programming deal that Televisa should be able to offer its content online Stateside without having to split revenues with Univision.

Azcarraga had long envisioned a bigger stake in Univision as key to Televisa’s growth beyond the Mexican market. Since losing out on Univision, Televisa said it plans to go it alone in the U.S. market, but it has yet to outline any new plans besides selling online content.

Televisa already is sitting on roughly $1.7 billion, and the sale of Univision shares would give it approximately $3 billion total. Some cash is expected to be given to shareholders, but the rest could be used to fund Televisa’s expansion.

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