Univision Deal Far From Over


Televisa is crying foul over the decision by the Univision board of directors to accept a $13.7 billion bid by media magnate Haim Saban and four private equity investors.

The Mexican broadcaster issued a terse statement: "Notwithstanding our repeated offers to discuss all aspects of our proposal including price, Univision and its advisers refused to enter into any discussions with us after we submitted our initial bid."

Whether Televisa was given a fair chance at buying Univision remains an open question.

"Remember, there is a predisposition to not give it to Televisa, but they do have a fiduciary responsibility to sell to the highest bidder," said José Cancela, principal of the consultancy Hispanic USA Inc.

Saban Capital's purchase still has to be approved by shareholders and there remains a possibility that Televisa will try and derail the bid in court or make a competing offer.

"At this level, you don't just say, ‘They didn't accept my offer and I am going home.’ We haven't seen the end of this yet." said Cancela

Televisa, though, faces an uphill battle if it does attempt to outbid the Saban group.

Even if the deal goes uncontested by Televisa, the necessary regulatory approvals will not likely be in place before next spring.

The sale takes place against a backdrop of Univision's stellar World Cup ratings and a thus far less-than-stellar performance in the upfront ad market.

Last Saturday's Argentina-Mexico quarterfinal match was the most-watched Spanish-language sports program. Despite the strong ratings, Univision's upfront hardly seems to be moving at a rapid-fire pace. "It is not the frenzy that it has been in years past," said Ken Deutsch, Grupo Gallegos media director and principal. "Our clients are in the upfront, but it is just not moving as fast as in years past."