Univision can strengthen its ties to Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, and accommodate overseas investors if it goes public, as a result of an FCC Declaratory Ruling that relaxes its restrictions on foreign ownership of domestic broadcasters.
Regulators said that Televisa can increase its equity stake to 49% from 25% — the current ceiling for overseas ownership of a TV station owner. But there’s one caveat: Televisa can control only as much as 40% of the shareholder votes.
“The Commission concluded that permitting increased foreign investment in Univision would serve the public interest in diversity and competition in the media sector without any countervailing national security, law enforcement or trade policy concerns,” Univision and Televisa say in a joint statement.
“The FCC’s decision will enable Univision to accommodate increased foreign investment that may result from share purchases by the public in an IPO while enabling Televisa (an existing investor in, and business partner of, Univision) to increase its current equity stake in the company.”
The announcement suggests that Univision is moving ahead with the IPO for which it filed preliminary paperwork at the SEC in mid-2015. Along with the filing, Univision extended a broadcasting agreement with Televisa until at least 2030, while the Mexican broadcaster raised its investment to a little under a quarter of its shares. Univision has an exclusive deal for most of Televisa’s programming for broadcast within the U.S.
The FCC ruling comes shortly before Donald Trump’s inauguration. He had a strained relationship with Univision during last year’s presidential campaign. In addition to multiple run-ins with Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos, Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit over the network’s decision to end plans to show the Miss USA pageant, which also was dumped by NBC. Univision said that it severed the ties due to Trump’s disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.
Televisa’s media holdings include three of Mexico’s five largest broadcast networks, a major pay-TV network group, the country’s top satellite provider, several major cable companies as well as a major publishing group and soccer franchises. Owning the company “is like owning a basket of Comcast/NBCUniversal, CBS, DirecTV and Madison Square Garden,” Evercore ISI analyst wrote in April.