Venevision joins bidders for Univision

Company already holds 13% stake

Cisneros Group’s Venevision is throwing its hat into the ring with Mexico’s Televisa, Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments and four other private equity firms in their joint bid for Univision.

Move is not a surprise, given that Venezuelan-based Venevision and Televisa co-founded Univision, along with current Univision chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio, in 1992.

Venevision and Televisa are the largest stockholders in Univision and both hold long-term programming pacts with Univision that expire in 2017. Televisa has an 11% stake; Venevision holds 13%.

Companies are likely to raise their respective shares to the maximum 25% allowed under FCC rules on foreign ownership of U.S. media assets.

“This only reaffirms our commitment to the U.S. Hispanic market,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, director of the office of Cisneros Group chairman Gustavo Cisneros. “We’re in it for the long term,” he told Daily Variety.

Among its diverse businesses aimed at the U.S. Hispanic market, the Cisneros Group runs cell phone company Movida, production facilities in Miami, an audio library, a record label and theaters, Lieberman added.

The Cisneros Group is one of the largest privately held media, entertainment, telecommunications, technology and consumer products organizations in the world.

Other partners in the Televisa-led consortium are Bain Capital Partners, Blackstone Management Associates, Carlyle Investment Management and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

They face a competing bid from another group of equity firms that includes media baron Haim Saban, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Madison Dearborn and Providence Equity Partners.

Bear, Stearns & Co. is acting as adviser to Venevision.

Bids are due June 20.

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