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Mexico’s Televisa tackles debt

Conglom had some $1.8 billion in debt

MEXICO CITY — Media conglom Televisa has issued 30-year bonds worth nearly 4.5 billion pesos ($412 million) in a plan to pay down debt and buy back shares, the company said late Wednesday.

Fitch ratings agency rated the new paper BBB+ and noted the company’s strong growth prospects; low, well-leveraged debt load; and a free cash flow of $900 million in 2006.

Televisa had some $1.8 billion in debt — but nearly double that in cash reserves — as it ended the first quarter.

Management has said the company will hold onto the liquidity as it eyes multiple acquisitions, from local cable companies to production companies like Endemol. But analysts think the web is unlikely to make a serious bid for the “Big Brother” factory.

Televisa just sold in March its minority stake in U.S. Hispanic web and programming partner Univision. Analysts expect Televisa could eventually end up parking much of its cash back at the U.S. net under a fresh deal with its new owners.

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