Skip to main content

Shareholders OK Univision Sale

After a lengthy auction process that ended with a group of private-equity investors and media mogul Haim Saban ultimately coming out the winner, Univision Communications Corp. cleared another hurdle in its planned $13.7 billion sale, when shareholders approved the deal last Wednesday.

The deal is expected to close in the spring of 2007 after receiving regulatory approvals.

According to Univision, more than 80% of the shares voted — representing about 60% of its outstanding shares — approved the deal. In June, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Saban Capital Group agreed to buy Univision for $36.25 per share and the assumption of about $1.4 billion in debt.

The June agreement ended what at times had been a contentious auction. Univision first said it would consider a sale in February and one of the initial bidders was Mexican television programming giant Grupo Televisa, which owns an 11% stake in the Spanish-language network. After several months, Televisa lobbed in a $35.50-per-share bid — with partners Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Venevision Investments, Bain Capital and Cascade Investments, the personal investment vehicle of Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates. When Univision rejected that bid as too low, the Televisa group began to unravel with all but Cascade dropping out. Televisa managed to scrape together additional funding from its remaining partners, but it was too late.

Speculation that Televisa would try to launch another higher bid for Univision was quashed after Televisa issued a statement that it had no intention of doing so. Televisa had said early on that it would not contribute its 11% interest in the deal, and had threatened to try to create its own U.S.-based Spanish language television network. Televisa continues to battle Univision over its right to air its content in the U.S. over the Internet (Univision objects), and has made moves to terminate its programming deal which expires in 2017.