Former Viacom CFO Wade Davis’ ForgeLight and Searchlight Capital have closed their acquisition of Univision, the two investment companies announced Tuesday.
The deal, first announced in February, gives the two companies a 64% majority stake in Univision, the country’s top Spanish-language broadcaster. Televisa, the Mexican media company which supplies much of Univision’s programming, retains its 36% share in the company and will continue to serve as an “important strategic partner” to the new owners.
As previously announced, ForgeLight founder and CEO Wade Davis will take over as CEO of Univision. In a statement, the former Viacom CFO called this an “exciting new era for Univision.”
The FCC approved the deal, allowing greater than 25% foreign ownership of the company in a ruling issued last week — Searchlight Capital’s partners are based in Germany, Canada, and the U.S. The approval followed an agreement between Univision and the U.S. Department of Justice allowing greater government oversight.
The Justice Department agreement, reached last month, requires Univision to enact greater protections for U.S. customer data and appoint a “Security Officer” with “appropriate senior-level corporate authority within Univision” to ensure the terms of the agreement are being met. The company has also consented to tighter screening of employees allowed access to customer data, notifying the DOJ of suspected security breaches and submitting an annual report regarding the company’s compliance with the agreement.
Under the agreement, Univision has 15 days to nominate a candidate for Security Officer after receiving FCC approval of the deal.
“I want to thank Vince Sadusky and the entire team for their work to refocus our strategy on the company’s deep roots in the U.S. Hispanic community and for building a robust platform to support future innovation,” Davis said in a statement. “I am proud to inherit leadership of such an incredible team, and I know that together we can create even greater value for our advertisers, distributors and investors, and, most importantly, create innovative and compelling content for our audiences. This is a pivotal moment in Univision’s rich history, as the company plays an increasingly important role in educating audiences about key issues relevant to the Hispanic community and encouraging and elevating the dialogue on social justice and equality, while also continuing to provide entertainment when viewers need it most. I couldn’t be more excited to get started. I would also like to thank Haim Saban and all the prior owners for their stewardship of this iconic business.”
“We are delighted to complete this transaction and look forward to partnering with Televisa, Wade and the leadership team to realize our ambitions,” said Eric Zinterhofer, founding partner of Searchlight Capital. “We are confident that Univision’s strong content and leadership in serving the dynamic U.S. Hispanic community positions the company for continued success.”
Added Televisa co-CEOs Bernardo Gomez and Alfonso de Angoitia, “We are excited to be part of this new phase of Univision. Wade’s leadership and Searchlight’s support are the catalysts that Univision needs to solidify its position as the leading Spanish-language media organization in the United States in light of the rapid changes that the industry is facing. We are looking forward to an even closer collaboration with Univision to help it implement the many transformational initiatives that Wade has set out to achieve. We would also like to thank Haim Saban for his leadership and dedication to Univision all these years.”