Billionaire Haim Saban and several investment companies that paid $13.7B (including $1.4B in debt) for the Spanish-language media company in 2007 want out for at least $20B, the Wall Street Journal says. They’ve reportedly sounded out Time Warner and CBS to see if there’s interest, although the paper says that there’s “no sign any of the preliminary discussions have led anywhere” due to the high price. Other options include taking the company public, or seeing whether the FCC might relax its rules barring foreign entities from owning more than a 25% stake in TV stations — opening the door for Mexico’s Grupo Televisa which owns a small stake in Univision.
Analysts have wondered about Univision’s fate: Its owners include private equity firms Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital, and Thomas H. Lee Partners — and companies like these usually don’t like to wait much more than five years to see a payoff from their investments. The 2007 acquisition of what was then a publicly traded company was seen as a coup for the group: They paid $36.25 a share, thwarting an effort by the controlling shareholder at the time — secretive former Hollywood agent A. Jerrold Perenchio — to collect $40. Since then Univision has expanded with multiple cable channels including sports service Univision Deportes, digital properties, and a production studio. Last year revenues increased 7.6% to $2.6B.