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Univision Owners Said to Approach CBS, Time Warner About Sale

Owners of Univision Communications Inc., the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., have been contacting companies to seek a buyer for the business, people familiar with the matter said.

CBS Corp. executives met with representatives of Univision and aren’t currently pursuing a deal, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Time Warner Inc., which also met with Univision, isn’t interested in a purchase, another person said.

Univision is approaching buyers eight years after it agreed to a $12.3 billion buyout by a group of investors including Haim Saban. Univision’s owners are valuing the company at more than $20 billion, a price that both CBS and Time Warner found too high, two people said.

The funds, including TPG Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, see an initial public offering as another option for the company, another person said.

They’ve also approached Grupo Televisa SA, which owns a small stake in Univision and had placed a rival bid for the company in 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier. Shares of Televisa rose as much as 4.4 percent today.

Spokesmen for Univision, CBS and Time Warner declined to comment on the possible sale.

Hispanic Community

Univision’s ratings are down 23 percent among viewers age 18 to 49 this year, according to Nielsen data. The network had an average audience of 1.45 million people in that category, this season through June 8.

A buyer of Univision would gain access to programming aimed at the U.S. Hispanic community, estimated to make up about a fifth of the country’s population by 2025. Still, that poses challenges for any owner: only the top advertisers are equipped with Spanish language creative campaigns, making Univision a less competitive media outlet.

Univision reported revenue of $2.62 billion for 2013, and operating income of $428 million. That compares with sales of $2.4 billion and operating income of $629 million in 2012, filings show.

Televisa, Mexico’s largest TV provider, in 2010 bought a 5 percent equity stake in Univision and debt that could be converted into an additional 30 percent holding. While several banks have pitched Univision on an IPO, no decision has been made, Televisa Executive Vice President Alfonso de Angoitia said on a call with analysts in October.

Univision’s buyout group was led by Saban Capital Group Inc. and also included Madison Dearborn Partners and Providence Equity Partners Inc.

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