Univision’s Saban Seeks to Triple Asia Investments in Two Years

Saban Capital Group Inc., the private-equity firm of Univision Communications Inc. Chairman Haim Saban, wants to triple its investments in Asia over the next two years focusing on media and communication.

The company, which started investing in Asia in 2010, last month opened its second office in the region in Singapore where it will seek opportunities in Southeast Asia, South Korea and India, Adam Chesnoff, the group’s president and chief operating officer, said in an interview on May 2.

More than 60 percent of the world’s youth, the main target group for television and Internet services, live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to estimates by the United Nations. Los Angeles-based Saban Capital has invested in five companies including Indonesia’s PT Media Nusantara Citra since expanding in the region.

“In the next 12 to 24 months, we want to double or even triple the size of the portfolio in Asia,” said Chesnoff, 47, declining to give specific investment details. “There is a void in sophisticated investors focusing on media and communication. And that is the strategy we are employing here in Asia.”

Globally, Saban’s investments include Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, and Partner Communications Co., Israel’s second-biggest mobile provider. He made his first fortune developing and producing the Power Rangers children’s television series.

Media Nusantara

Saban Capital bought a 5 percent stake in Jakarta-based Media Nusantara for 692 billion rupiah ($71 million) in October 2011 and increased its stake to 5.8 percent this year. The shares have tripled since the 2011 investment, compared with a 40 percent gain in the benchmark Jakarta Composite index.

Media Nusantara has a 40 percent market share in Indonesia’s $1.6 billion free-television market, according to Sumeet Jaisinghani, Saban’s director for private equity and head of the Singapore office. The private-equity firm also owns about 4 percent of pay-television provider PT MNC Sky Vision, which has a 70 percent share of the country’s $300 million pay-television market, he said.

Saban Capital, which also has an office in Hong Kong, is interested in boosting its stake in both companies, Chesnoff said.

The company has either invested or arranged to invest “well north of $6 billion” of equity in its transactions, Chesnoff said, with a targeted annual return of more than 20 percent. “But it depends on the opportunity and we can deviate from that,” he said.

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