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Univision In Acquisition Talks With Investor Group Led By Viacom Alum Wad

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision has entered sales talks with an investor group that includes Searchlight Capital Partners and Wade Davis, the former chief financial officer of Viacom.

A Univision spokeswoman declined to comment. News of the Univision sale process accelerating with the Davis/Searchlight group was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Sources said the talks are proceeding with the expectation of a sale price of around $10 billion. The sides have agreed to a window of exclusive negotiations, sources confirm, but there is no certainty that a deal will materialize.

The financial backers of Univision have long been interested in selling the asset, as the large broadcaster faces an era in which more consumers are interested in streaming-video services. NBCUniversal, which owns Univision’s main Spanish-language rival Telemundo, expects to launch the streaming hub Peacock, which will make use of Telemundo content. Univision has in recent years scrapped an expected IPO and bought and then sold off an array of digital-content assets that included Jezebel, Jalopnik, The Root and a minority stake in The Onion.

Univision, which is backed by private-equity owners, including Saban Capital Group, Madison Dearborn Partners and Texas Pacific Group, has failed to devise an exit for those investors as the broadcasting industry has grown more complex to navigate. Vincent Sandusky was named CEO of the company in May 2018, replacing Randy Falco.

Davis, who has a reputation as a steady leader of media companies, decided to leave Viacom in advance of its merger with CBS Corp. late last year. He had functioned as a sort of chief operating officer of that entertainment company under CEO Bob Bakish. At present, ViacomCBS does not have a chief operating officer, but instead a single executive who oversees many of the CBS operations. George Cheeks, a former NBCUniversal executive, is expected to take over that role after Joe Ianniello, the CEO of CBS, leaves the company.

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