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Televisa Wants Out of Univision

Mexican broadcast giant Televisa is seeking to sell its stake in top U.S. Spanish-language network Univision after a Televisa-led investment group failed in its bid to acquire Univision.

Televisa, which holds a minority stake in Univision and provides the bulk of its programming, says it is prepared to discuss a sale "as soon as possible" based on the share price Univision accepted from a rival investment group of $36.25 per share.

Televisa says divesting its Univision stake will allow it  "to engage in new business opportunities in the growing U.S. Hispanic marketplace relating to its programming or otherwise without offering Univision participation in such opportunities." But the Mexican company will continue to provide content to Univision under a programming deal that runs through 2017.

One possible move for Televisa could be distributing its shows to U.S. audiences on the Internet, although it is not clear which company holds those rights in the U.S..

 Univisions surprised many industry observers last week when it turned down an offer by a Televisa-led consortium and accepted a bid from five private equity firms, including one backed by media mogul Haim Saban. The Televisa group was hampered by several investors dropping out and submitted one bid for $35.75 per share, which was rejected. 

It took two bids for the rival group, which includes Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Saban Capital Group, to prevail. After initially offering $35.50 per share, which was rejected, the consortium returned with $36.25 per share. The offer includes the assumption of $1.4 billion in debt.

When it put itself on the auction block in February, Univision was projecting it could fetch up to $40 per share.

Along with the Televisa revolt, Univision is facing two shareholder lawsuits. The suits, filed last week in  Los Angeles Supreme Court, are seeking class action status. Both claim the buyout offer benefits insiders but not shareholders. One shareholder said the company failed to invited an open and active auction.