Univision Auction Left in Limbo

22 June 2006

The much-trumpeted auction for the biggest Spanish-language media company in the US, Univision Communications, has been thrown into disarray following a dispute between bidding partners.

Grupo Televisa has seen private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Blackstone Group ride off into the sunset, threatening to take the Mexican media giant's acquisition hopes with them.

The buyout firms reportedly left the consortium because of disagreements over how much to bid for Los Angeles-headquartered Univision.

Unless Televisa can come up with a fully funded bid quickly - it has now missed the deadline for offers - the auction may boil down to just one bidder, another consortium of private equity funds led by billionaire investor Haim Saban.

The reluctance of the latter to pay top dollar - to the tune of $13 billion (€10.28bn; £7.06bn) - may now convince Univision ceo Jerrold Perenchio to abandon the sale, setting back Televisa's hopes of gaining further ground in the lucrative US Hispanic market.

Under a long-term deal, the Mexican company provides much of Univision's most popular programming but relations between the two are less than cordial.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff