FINALLY: Univision Finds a Buyer

February 25th, 2020 6:52 PM

Univision covered its own acquisition on its “Edicion Digital (Digital Edition)” noon newscast, following earlier reports that the beleaguered network had finally come to terms with a potential buyer. 

Watch that rarest of moments below --- in which a media outlet reported its own acquisition (click "expand" to view transcript):



CAROLINA SARASSA: In other news, Univision shareholders have- in the past few hours-  arrives at an agreement on the sale of its majority stake (in the network) to Searchlight Capital Partners and Forgelight, LLC.

BORJA VOCES: The agreement calls for the sale of 64% of Univision. The remaining 36% shall continue to be held by Televisa, who have decided to retain their ownership stake and continue to execute the programming licensing agreement, which has been a strategic success and has, of course, contributed to Univision’s success as well as that of Televisa.

SARASSA: Veteran media executive Wade Davis shall become the CEO of Univision as soon as this deal is finalized.

VOCES: The new majority shareholders, Searchlight and Forgelight, will bring their experience and knowledge in this field in order to consolidate Univision’s leadership by leveraging the great moment it currently finds itself in, in terms of content and programming. The purpose is to accelerate growth, expand its advertising product portfolio, substantially improve its digital presence, and continue using Televisa’s product- the best in its class.

SARASSA: Univision is the most recognized and trusted brand among U.S. Hispanics, with clear and broad leadership in news, sports, and entertainment. Among Hispanic adults, Univision Noticias outperforms any over-the-air television network, regardless of language, by more than 34%, and outperforms any cable network, Borja, by over 89%.    

The report, although equal parts business news and corporate propaganda, confirms what Axios broke earlier this morning: that the nation’s leading Spanish-language network (after years of mismanagement, failed IPOs and unsuccessful negotiations) has finally found a ready, willing, and able buyer with whom to come to terms. The $10 or so billion sought by Univision (per the Los Angeles Times) falls well short of what was initially paid for the network, short of last year’s $13 billion offer by Discovery, Inc., and short of the $12.7 billion initially paid by a group of investors led by Clinton Foundation mega donor Haim Saban.

There are several things to watch for once the dust settles. Incoming CEO Wade Davis (who MRC Business reported has been a Democrat donor, albeit not on the scale as Saban) hinted to The Hollywood Reporter that "They've divested the English language cable channels as they've been sunset." Does this mean that Univison has finally pulled the plug on the multi-million dollar black hole known as Fusion? 

As new management makes their way through the network- will the news division, unchanged since Isaac Lee’s ouster to be honest, see some much-needed changes? Or will Univision’s news division continue to subsist on liberal bias and immigration grievance

Will Televisa be fine with sitting on their 36% stake, or do they want more? Recall that the 2016 election represented two types of regulatory relief for Univision: immigration reform, and a relaxing of the FCC rules which would enable Televisa to acquire a larger stake. Although Univision got their rule change in the dead of the Trump transition, those stakes remain the same for 2020.

These are just some of the many issues that need to be addressed at Univision. It is our sincere hope that new management build a network and news division that is truly inclusive of all. 

We'll be watching.