Televisa set to buy back group stock

Co. awaits recovery of Mexican economy, ad market

MIAMI — Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, the largest Spanish-lingo media company in the world, announced Wednesday a share repurchase program of up to $400 million over the next three years.

Its American Depository Receipts (ADRs) closed down 25¢ at $29.87 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Debt ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poors said the program would not affect Televisa’s debt rating.

Televisa had reached a 52-week high of $49.09 in March before beginning to slide, hitting a 52-week low of $25.50 in August.

The multimedia conglom, whose interests include four broadcast channels, cable operators, direct-to-home services, publishing, radio and pay TV programming, is not alone among companies taking advantage of the weaker stock market to buy back their shares.

But head of investor relations Alberto Islas says that while the company expects to see some recovery in the Mexican economy and ad market in 2003, revenue at Televisa’s core TV broadcasting division will be flat or slightly down in the third quarter.

That division had recorded a revenue increase of 10% in the second quarter, fueled by World Cup-related spending, without which broadcast TV revenue would have been up a mere 1%.

Televisa’s overall rev declined by nearly 4% in peso terms to $2.14 billion for 2001. So far this year, the core broadcast TV division is holding up, but Televisa’s other businesses are suffering in the softer economy.

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