Univision Auction a Roller Coaster

6/23/2006 9:03 AM Eastern

The much-anticipated auction for Univision Communications took some unexpected turns this past week after Grupo Televisa -- thought to be the front-runner for the Spanish-language broadcasting giant -- lost three key partners but managed to piece together a late bid Friday, according to press reports.

Initial bids for Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the country, were due June 20. But according to published reports, only one potential bidder made that deadline -- a group including private-equity groups Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners and Providence Equity Group and media investor Haim Saban -- with a bid estimated to be about $35.50 per share, or some $11 billion. Univision promptly rejected that bid as too low, but the group did not withdraw its offer, according to The New York Times.

According to a report Friday in The Wall Street Journal, Televisa submitted a bid for Univision early Friday, estimated to be in excess of $35.50 per share.

The bid came less than one day after Televisa, which already owns an 11% stake in Univision, lost three of its private equity backers -- The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

According to the Journal's Friday report, Televisa secured additional funding commitments from its remaining partners -- Venevision Investments, Bain Capital and Cascade Investments, the personal investment vehicle of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates -- after agreeing to give up its right to name a new CEO and agreeing to occupy fewer seats on Univision’s board of directors.

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