Univision won’t say how it came to assume the Disney-owned network’s stake in Fusion — which had been a joint venture — or, assuming it’s a sale, how much it paid.
But it does say that it has already replaced ABC in distributing the network, and handling ad sales. The ownership transition will take place “once the transaction is completed, which is expected to be as soon as reasonably practical.”
The deal may affect Univision’s effort to go public: It filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC last year — and Bloomberg reports today that it hopes to raise $1 billion from a public offering in the second half of 2016.
Univision is waiting for market conditions to improve as it looks for a valuation of $6.5 billion, according to the report. The company went private in 2007 and now is mostly owned by Saban Capital Group, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG, and Thomas H. Lee Partners
Univision is framing this as a part of a strategy to create the Fusion Media Group, which it envisions as a “multi-platform destination for the new, rising American mainstream.”
The unit will also include Univision’s interests in El Rey, The Root, The Onion, A.V. Club, Clickhole, Starwipe, Flama, Univision Digital and Univision Music.
Univision and ABC launched Fusion in late 2013. The cable and digital network originally specialized in news and lifestyle programming targeting young English-speaking Hispanics in the U.S. The idea was to give Disney’s ABC News more access to that demo group.
But Fusion struggled to find its financial footing as its focus expanded to all millennials. Its net loss increased 7.4% to $37.6 million in 2015. Revenues increased 126% to $63.5 million, but that was overwhelmed by the nearly 58% increase in operating expenses to $100.1 million.
Fusion reaches about 27 million people a month on all platforms, Univision says.
“This is an important time for [Univision Communications] as we continue to evolve as a company to meet and exceed the demands of the cross-cultural influencers that we serve,” CEO Randy Falco says. “Fully integrating Fusion into our portfolio closely aligns with our desire to engage with our growing audience wherever they are, whenever they want and in their language of preference.”
Univision’s Chief News and Digital Officer Isaac Lee says that the enterprise is “focused on serving a new majority whose influence is rapidly growing – affecting everything from politics and the economy to our culture. Through impactful journalism and smart commentary, our portfolio will serve a rising generation with meaningful content that reflects their values and passions.”
Univision and Deadline parent PMC are partners in a digital entertainment operation, Variety Latino.
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