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Televisa denies Univision group think

Discussions among the partners are still informal

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Televisa on Monday denied media reports it was part of a consortium bidding for U.S. Spanish-language web Univision.

In a statement, the company said it was still in the “the early stages of analyzing different alternatives to determine what, if any, course of action makes sense for us,” regarding the sale of the net run by A. Jerrold Perenchio.

“At this point, we are not participating in the process, and we have had no discussions or negotiations with Univision. In addition, we have no agreements with any third party to form a group or consortium,” the company said.

On Thursday, it was widely reported that Televisa had joined a powerful consortium, including Venevision of Venezuela, Haim Saban and buyout firms Providence Equity and Madison Dearborn Partners, to bid for Univision.

Discussions among the partners are still informal, since the parties haven’t signed papers or confidentiality agreements. Saban, in fact, is said to no longer be in the mix.

Televisa, which has a clear interest in closer ties with Univision, is likely eager to keep the door open for other potential partners as the sale unfolds, said people who follow the company.

Limits on foreign ownership of U.S. broadcasters prevent Televisa from leading a bid on its own, even though it has cash reserves of $1.4 billion. Televisa owns 11% of Univision while Venevision parent Grupo Cisneros has a 13% stake.

However, Televisa is integral to Univision’s sale, as it provides the bulk of the net’s highly rated primetime programming.

Televisa is suing Univision in a Los Angeles court for breach of contract under a long-term programming agreement that’s not due to expire until 2017.

Televisa topper Emilio Azcarraga Jean has made no secret of his desire for greater control in Univision — and a greater share of the net’s profits.

Univision shares rose nearly 4% to close at $34.18 amid reports of pending deal Friday. That price dipped slightly to $34.07 on Monday.

(Anna Marie de la Fuente in Hollywood and Jill Goldsmith in New York contributed to this report.)