Viacom Acquires Argentina Spanish-Language Network Telefe For $345M

By Patrick Hipes, David Lieberman

Associated Press

Viacom International Media Networks has acquired Televisión Federal S.A., or Telefe, one of the major free-to-air channels in Argentina. The deal with Telefónica S.A. is for $345 million in cash, the companies said today in announcing the deal.

The announcement comes on Bob Bakish’s first day as Viacom’s acting CEO, although he played a big role in crafting the terms as head of VIMN. He vowed during Viacom’s Q4 earnings call this month that he would continue to “accelerate our evolution while building a long-term vision for our future,” even as directors weigh a merger with CBS.

Telefe reaches 95% of all households in Argentina and has an estimated viewership share in 2016 of 33%. It also produces more than 3,000 hours of Spanish-language video content each year, and features a library of 33,000 hours of local content. It will join Viacom’s pay-TV offerings in Argentina including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount Channel.

“Telefe is an outstanding broadcast and production business, and this acquisition will accelerate our growth strategy in Argentina, one of the most advanced and valuable media markets in Latin America,” Bakish says.  “Viacom has an unrivalled track record of combining free and pay TV networks to deliver strong growth in high-value or high-growth markets, including in the UK and India. Working together with Telefe’s highly successful team, we can strengthen Telefe’s market-leading status in Argentina and expand its presence around the world using Viacom’s extensive global network, potentially reaching hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers across Latin and North America, as well as in other markets.”

Telefe is one of Argentina’s five large broadcast channels. That “makes it attractive,” Barclays analyst  Kannan Venkateshwar said early this month when word of a possible deal leaked. But he also noted that “consumers are increasingly moving away from broadcast to cable networks.” And he questioned why Viacom “would deploy this capital at this point, given the much bigger strategic priorities that have to be addressed.”

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