Giant Miami-based Spanish language broadcaster Univision is being acquired by two private investment firms, ForgeLight and Searchlight Capital Partners, and will enter a new era led by Wade Davis – longtime media executive, former Viacom CFO and ForgeLight founder-CEO – and marked by enhanced collaboration with core programming partner and remaining shareholder, Televisia of Mexico.
In an announcement early Tuesday, the partners said they intend to build on Univision’s recent content and programming momentum to accelerate growth, expand its portfolio of advertising products, substantially enhance its digital presence and work closely with Televisa, which will retain its 36% stake.
ForgeLight and SearchLight, meanwhile, will buy a majority 64% ownership interest from all the other stockholders of the privately-held company. Financial terms of the of the transaction were not disclosed. Davis founded ForgeLight last year.
Univision is currently controlled by a consortium of investment groups including Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Saban Capital Group. They acquired the company for $13.7 billion in 2007, beating out a rival bid from Televisa.
Vince Sadusky, Univision CEO, spoke of a “re-energized and refocused company” and said “today marks the start of an exciting new chapter with partners that recognize the excellent position Univision is in.”
“I’m so proud of everything we have accomplished that has led us to this great outcome. Both Searchlight and Wade are wholly supportive of Univision’s core mission to entertain, inform and empower Hispanic America and fully embrace the commitment and special bond we have with our audience. Our talented operating team has transformed Univision to be strategically, operationally and financially stronger than it has been in years,” Sadusky said.
Televisa’s crucial program license agreement with Univision will remain in effect and will not expire unless Televisa voluntarily sells down a substantial portion of its ownership stake, at which point the agreement would still remain in place for an additional seven and a half year years. The agreement is one of Univision’s most strategic assets, giving it exclusive access to the largest Spanish-language video library in the world. The announcement said Televisa will serve as an important partner to the new ownership and management team going forward.
Davis said he is “honored to be partnering with Televisa and Searchlight to help steward Univision into this next phase. Televisa has a shared history with Univision dating back many years and a deep strategic relationship today. The context, insight and strategic content that Televisa brings to Univision have been key to the company’s success.”
He said he has worked with Searchlight “as a limited partner, board member and friend since the team founded the firm. They are among the smartest and most value additive investors in our industry and there is no one I would rather partner with in this transaction.”
Televisa co-CEOs Bernardo Gomez and Alfonso de Angoitia said the company’s decision to maintain its partnership and ownership stake in Univision “strongly reflects our deep confidence in Searchlight and Wade’s leadership, as well as the continued positive outlook we have for Univision as a long-term strategic investment. … We view this transaction as a strong vote of confidence by Univision’s new owners in Televisa’s insight, creativity and its place as an undisputed leader in producing high-quality Spanish-language content targeting a dynamic and growing audience demographic.”
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