The owners of Univision Communications, Inc., which include billionaire Haim Saban, have been holding preliminary discussions about a possible sale of the company.
They are seeking more than $20 billion for the company, and have reached out to several media companies, including CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc., an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. Univision was purchased by the group in 2007 for $13.7 billion.
But that asking price may be too high, as these preliminary talks have reportedly not led anywhere, despite Univision being the top-rated Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States.
Of the top five broadcast networks, Univision was the only one to show growth in prime-time viewership in the 2012-13 season. However, the fortunes of the company reversed the following season, dropping 23%, according to Nielsen.
The consortium of owners had been expected to take Univision Communications, Inc. public in 2015, at which point they would have been able to exit the company, but those plants aren’t set yet, either.
Another possibility explored was to have minority stake owner Grupo Televisa, a Mexican media conglomerate, take over ownership. However, regulatory rules cap foreign ownership of domestic broadcast companies at 25%. The Federal Communications Commission voted to allow exemptions on a case-by-case basis in Fall 2013, but that doesn’t mean this deal would be approved. It’s also unclear if Grupo Televisa has an interest in taking over ownership of Univision.
The latest moves may be in response to two huge mergers happening in the television industry, Comcast’s proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s $49 billion purchase of DirecTV. This has left some entertainment executives thinking they need to beef up their own companies in order to leverage against these titans.
Randy Falco, Univision Communications CEO, has been one of the most outspoken executives about the Comcast deal, raising concerns in an April earnings call. Specifically, he called out Comcast, which also owns Univision rival Telemundo, for not distributing Univisions’s sports network, which is airing 24/7 World Cup programming.
Univision has been expanding its operations to attract more revenue through advertising and subscription revenues from pay TV operators. In the past two-and-a-half years, the company has gone from three cable channels to 12, and even launched into the digital arena with online network, Flama.