Televisa, the soap opera powerhouse that is Mexico’s top media company, is raising its bet on the fast-growing US Hispanic market by investing $1.2 billion in debt-laden broadcaster Univision. The investment gives Televisa an initial stake of 5 percent in Univision Communications Inc that could grow to as much as 40 percent eventually. It also is a big step in repairing a relationship between partners that was damaged in recent years by royalty payment disputes and management fights.
The news of the investment in privately held Univision by Televisa pushed up the Mexican company’s stock by over 12 percent. “It is a game-changing event for both Televisa and Univision, not only for the growth potential of the US Hispanic market … but for the potential across all (media) platforms,” Televisa Executive Vice President Alfonso de Angoitia told Reuters.
The deal initially would give Televisa a 5 percent stake in Univision plus a 30 percent equity stake from convertible debentures in the US broadcaster when they mature in 15 years. The Mexican company will have an option to buy another 5 percent of Univision in three years.
US law prohibits foreign broadcasters from owning over 25 percent of US broadcasters. Televisa said it did not know how it would overcome that at present, but Mr De Angoitia said he hoped that law would change eventually. He declined to comment further on that issue.
The agreement makes Televisa the main provider of programing that Univision broadcasts across the United States through 2020, adding three years to the previous deal as Televisa also seeks to reach US Spanish speakers with its Internet and mobile phone content. The deal gives Televisa better prices for its programmes and solidifies Univision’s position atop the US Spanish-language market, leaving NBC’s Telemundo a distant second. Univision says it draws nearly 6 percent of primetime American viewers aged 18 to 49 as the Hispanic television market grows
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