The oldest son of Mexican telco tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has forked out $288 million for 2.8% of Univision, fueling speculation the family could team up with Televisa in a bid for the giant U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster.
Carlos Slim Domit bought 8.5 million Class A shares in March via his Carso Immobiliario fund, according to a regulatory filing to the SEC made Wednesday.
Univision put itself on the block in February.
Slim Domit sits on the board at Mexican TV behemoth Televisa, which itself owns 11% of Univision and is its major programming supplier.
His father, the world’s fourth richest man, and Televisa topper Emilio Azcarraga Jean are already partners in a low-cost airline, and Slim Helu owns 5.15% of Televisa’s shares.
“We believe the filing indicates smart-money interest in Univision,” said Deutsche Bank analysts in a note.
“Acquiring the Univision stake might be a strategic move by the Slim Group, which may ultimately join Televisa in trying to acquire Univision,” the bank added.
“Either Mr. Slim is willing to commit capital to the company over the longer-term…or he believes that this is a compelling opportunity (i.e., the auction will push the price well above current levels),” said Merrill Lynch’s Jessica Reif Cohen.
Univision shares rallied, rising 1.19% to $34.90.
A number of private equity firms have been courting Televisa to partner in bidding for Univision.
But Televisa has said it’s exploring its options and isn’t in formal deal talks with anyone.
It distanced itself from Slim’s move, noting in the filing that the shares “were not acquired pursuant to any arrangement with Grupo Televisa.” Company added that it “is not part of a ‘group’ with Mr. Slim or Carso.”
Slim Domit is also the chairman of Telefonos de Mexico, Mexico’s leading fixed-line phone provider, and the family’s conglomerate, Grupo Carso.
Filing also noted Televisa will name a new board member to Univision, filling the seat left vacant since Azcarraga Jean ankled a year ago over differences with Univision head A. Jerold Perenchio.