The investment group composed of private equity firm Searchlight and the investment company ForgeLight has reached an agreement Tuesday to acquire 64% of Univisión, the leading television network in the US Hispanic market for an undisclosed price by the parties The remaining shares will remain in the hands of Mexico's Televisa. Veteran media executive Wade Davis will assume as CEO once the operation is closed, scheduled for the end of the year due to pending regulatory approvals. The purpose of the “strategic option” is to accelerate growth, expand the portfolio of advertising products and improve the digital presence, according to a company statement.
Univision has been privately owned for more than a decade. Since 2007 it is controlled by a consortium of investment funds that includes Thomas H. Lee, Providence Equity, Madison Dearborn, TPG Capital and Saban Capital. The group offered $ 13.7 billion, just before the financial crisis exploded. When they acquired it, the television network stopped trading on Wall Street. A couple of years ago he tried to return to the stock market, but in March 2018 he resigned his plans due to “the unfavorable market conditions”.
With the mergers of giants like Fox and Disney, coupled with the flourishing of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, among others, the entertainment industry is undergoing several adjustments. The Univision audience reaches almost 1.5 million viewers in primetime, when a decade ago it was double. Davis, the 47-year-old businessman who arrives to steer the ship, worked for almost 14 years at Viacom, owner of successful channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. He left the position of CEO when Viacom merged last year with CBS Corp. It was then that he formed his own investment firm, ForgeLight LLC.
The licensing agreement between Univision and Televisa, which claims to have the largest Spanish video library in the world, remains intact. According to the television network, the contract will not expire until Televisa “voluntarily sells a substantial part of its ownership interest”, at which time the agreement will remain in force for another seven and a half years.
The current CEO of Univision, Vince Sadusky, who has run the company since the end of 2018, sent an email to chain employees celebrating the new agreement: "Today is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter," he said. "In the coming weeks we will share more information on our way forward, but in the meantime, it will remain the usual business until the agreement is closed," he added. That is likely to happen later this year.