More suitors circle network's wagon

Univision and its largest program supplier, Televisa, have reached detente in Puerto Rico, inking an exclusive long-term deal through 2017, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

Separately, more buyers are said to be lining up for Univision, the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, which put itself on the block last month.

Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and private equity firms Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners have reportedly teamed to explore a bid. All three declined to comment.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital are also said to be bidding. It is unclear whether they will join another group, or all team up.

The buyout firms have been allegedly wooing Mexico’s Televisa as a partner. Televisa owns an 11% stake in the U.S. Hispanic web but limits on foreign ownership of U.S. broadcasters prevent Televisa from leading a bid on its own.

According to the SEC filing, Univision signed a “long-form” agreement earlier this month, back-dated to May 31, with Televisa and with Venevision of Venezuela, giving Univision a programming exclusive through 2017 for its Puerto Rico stations. Deal brings the island in line with programming exclusives that cover the Univision and Telefutura networks in the U.S.

It’s not clear if the latest agreement will have any impact on Televisa’s ongoing lawsuit against Univision for breach of contract under other long-term programming pacts.

Under the Puerto Rican agreements, Univision must pay Mexico’s Televisa 12% of net time sales in Puerto Rico.

Venevision, a division of the Cisneros Group of Cos., gets either a 6% cut or a ratings-based fee, whichever is greater (but not more than 12% of net sales).

A consortium including Venezuela’s Cisneros Group and U.S.-based investment firms Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners is said to be exploring a joint bid for Univision.

Big U.S. media groups, including CBS Corp. and Time Warner, also are mulling their options.

Univision shares rose slightly Thursday to close at $33.47 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Mary Sutter in Miami contributed to this report.)

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