US Hispanic Media Group Puts Itself Up for Sale

10 February 2006

Univision, America's largest Spanish-language media group, on Wednesday hung a 'For Sale' sign around its own neck.

The reasons for the sale are not entirely clear.

Neither lack of profitability nor growth limitations figure in Univision's decision to seek a buyer. Its net income in Q3 2005 rose 8% year-on-year to $79.2 million (€66.36m; £45.5m), while Hispanic households in the US are forecast to increase from ten million to 13.5m over the next five years.

Media observers see the sale as an exit route for Univision's 75-year old chairman/ceo and founder, A Jerrold Perenchio, paradoxically a non-Spanish speaker, who is also the group's controlling shareholder.

Analysts believe a sale could fetch north of $12 billion - and there is no shortage of potential buyers. Among those known to harbour an interest are CBS ceo Leslie Moonves, and News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch.

Says the latter: "We would look at Univision although have no specific intentions. At some of the prices we have heard thrown around, we would have no intention [of bidding]."

Also in the frame are Time Warner, which recently established a Spanish-language home video label, and the Walt Disney Company which now dubs some of its programming in Spanish.

Another possible contender is Televisa, a Mexican media conglomerate and content provider to Univision. However, as a foreign-based entity, its stake would be limited to 25%.

In January, the flagship Univision Network received the accolade of recognition by Nielsen Media Research as a national network in its own right, its ratings now measured alongside those of NBC, Fox, ABC and CBS.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff