Hemisphere Media Poised to Get Acquisitive

It’s not very often that a NASDAQ closing bell ceremony includes a speech partly delivered in Spanish.

But that was the case on July 10, when a group of executives from Hemisphere Media Group (ticker: HMTV) descended on New York to mark their company’s inclusion in the electronic stock market.

“Envío un saludo a nuestros televidentes en EE.UU. y Puerto Rico (I’d like to send a greeting to our TV viewers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico),” Alan Sokol, CEO of Hemisphere Media Group, said in Spanish before officially ringing the closing bell at a packed studio in midtown Manhattan.

Also at hand for the ceremony were Jim McNamara, chairman of Cine Latino; Joe Ramos, president of WAPA Television, Gabriel Brener, Director of Hemisphere Media Group, and Peter M. Kern, chairman of the board, among others.

Though the ceremony took place earlier this month, the company became formally listed on the NASDAQ Global Market on April 23. Since then, its stock is up about 37%.

Hemisphere Media Group, the only publicly traded pure-play Hispanic TV/cable network business, was formed earlier this year by a series of mergers in which it became the new parent company of Cine Latino, WAPA America, WAPA-TV and Azteca Acquisition Corporation. Trading on NASDAQ is crucial in the company’s strategy of expanding through acquisitions.

“We are now ready to get bigger and complement our portfolio of Hispanic broadcast and cable assets,” Sokol told Hispanic TV Update.

HMG now includes three television networks, but with a market capitalization of about $600 million, it should be able to start acquiring new properties in both the U.S. Hispanic and the Latin American TV markets. Sokol declined to name any potential acquisition targets, however.

“We are very good at acquiring underperforming companies and making them leaders in their respective markets,” Sokol said. “And we will continue to do so.”

Cinelatino has about 12 million subscribers across the U.S., Latin America and Canada.

WAPA America, which targets Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean Hispanics living in the U.S., has about 5 million subscribers.

WAPA-TV in San Juan, P.R., is Puerto Rico’s leading broadcast station and content producer, generating more than 60 hours per week of news and entertainment programming.