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Slim’s Univision Holdings Get Fatter

Mexican telephone mogul Carlos Slim Domit is continuing to bulk up his personal holdings in Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc., buying another 3 million shares of the broadcaster’s stock for about $102 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Slim, chairman of Mexican telephone giant Teléfonos de México S.A. de C.V., said in a filing Thursday that one of his holdings -- Telmex Trust, the pension fund of the telephone company -- purchased 3 million shares of Univision on the open market from March 23-April 3 at an average price of $33.88 per share.

That adds to the 8.5 million Univision shares Slim purchased through another of his holdings -- Inmobiliaria Carso S.A., a Slim-family real estate company in which Carlos Slim owns a 14.6% stake -- from March 9-20.

Slim also serves on the board of directors of Group Televisa S.A., which owns an 11% interest in Univision.

In the SEC filing, Grupo Televisa said it held a board-of-directors meeting Thursday and authorized chairman and CEO Emilio Azcarraga and executive vice president Alfonso de Angoitia to enter into a group with others to make a plan or proposal for a transaction with Univision that would result in it increasing its minority stake in the broadcaster.

That appears to confirm earlier reports in The Wall Street Journal that Grupo Televisa was considering joining with several private-equity firms to boost its stake in Univision to 25%, the federally mandated limit for foreign ownership in U.S. broadcast companies. Univision is based in Los Angeles.

Univision put itself on the block in February after it hired adviser UBS Investment Bank to explore its options, including a possible sale. Analysts have speculated that Univision could sell for as much as $12 billion-$14 billion.

News of Slim’s increased interest in Univision comes in the wake of reports that The Walt Disney Co. and CBS Corp. are considering teaming up on a bid. While the two broadcast giants have long been considered to be potential suitors for Univision -- along with Time Warner Inc. and several private-equity firms -- CBS chief Leslie Moonves tried to squash any speculation that his company would pursue Univision in a conference call with analysts Wednesday to discuss its first-quarter results.

“We’re very happy with the hand we are playing now,” Moonves said on the call, adding that there are major regulatory issues in any potential Univision deal. “We are not looking for an acquisition of that size,” he said.