Univision, now run by CEO Vince Sadusky, may be trying to trim costs and staff to stay competitive, but the purchase and possible sale of its brand The Onion could result in a whole new set of tears for the Spanish-language media company. That would be at least $2 million worth of tears to be specific, as part of a lawsuit filed against Univision and the news satire outlet late last week by financial specialists GCA Advisors.
“As a direct and proximate result of The Onion’s breach of the Agreement, Plaintiff has suffered damages, in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $2,000,000, and prejudgment interest,” said attorneys at Liddle & Robinson LLP in an August 10 jury-trial-seeking filing (read it here) in New York Supreme Court.
Essentially, GCA, formally called GCA Savvian Advisors, LLC, claims it was brought on board by The Onion in October 2013 to help with a potential sale. Among other things, the deal the parties struck ensured that GCA would receive a self-described “base fee” of $2 million if a sale occurred “during the term of this agreement or at any time within 12 months after the effective date of termination of this agreement, a Transaction is consummated.”
No deal went down over almost two years and the parties went their separate ways in early April 2015. But in January 2016 — and within that previously mentioned 12 months — the then Randy Falco-run Univision picked up an almost controlling stake in The Onion for just over $27 million. “Comedy is playing an expanding role in our culture as a vehicle for audiences to explore, debate and understand the important ideas of our time,” said Univision’s chief news and digital exec Isaac Lee optimistically at the time.
Now, even as Univision is exploring how to perhaps unload The Onion and other former Gawker properties it has in its Gizmodo Media Group, here is where it gets a little messy — at least according to GCA.
“Upon information and belief, Defendant Univision knowingly and intentionally caused Defendant The Onion to breach its contractual obligations under the Agreement by entering into an agreement to pay the Transaction Fee due Plaintiff GCA to a third party,” the San Fran-based financial advisors claim in their tortious interference action in the Empire State. The five-page suit claims “despite repeated written demands, Defendants The Onion and Univision have refused to pay Plaintiff the Transaction Fee required by the Agreement.”
Univision did not respond to a request for comment on the legal action. However, they have to respond to GCA’s summons within 20 to 30 days or “judgment will be taken against you by default for the relief demanded in the Complaint.”
And that’s not going to be funny.