With no one coming to the forefront after Univision Communications put up a “for sale” sign, the Hispanic media company is in “the very early stages” of a formal auction process with a “strict timetable” that’s being run by Morgan Stanley, Moelis & Co. and LionTree, according to a Monday story in The New York Post.
Last month, Univision “quietly gathered a select group of prospective suitors in New York as it sought a price tag north of $10 billion,” The Post reports. “But after sifting through more than 100 pages of confidential financial information, the group of media companies and buyout firms appears to have taken a pass.”
Heading into the July Fourth weekend, the Miami-based company hired Morgan Stanley, Moelis & Co. and boutique investment bank LionTree to explore options, including an outright sale or a partnership with another company, as Inside Radio reported. This followed Univision’s cancellation of a long-awaited IPO in March 2018, citing “prevailing market conditions.”
And with broadcast veteran Vince Sadusky brought in as new CEO, during the past year, Univision refocused on its core Spanish-language media assets while selling off English-language properties, seemingly prepping the company for a sale. Its pitch to potential suitors is that the U.S. Hispanic audience represents “one of the very few certain growth opportunities in today’s media marketplace,” and that Univision is well positioned to capitalize on that growth. Univision is owned by Broadcast Media Partners, a consortium of five private equity firms, including Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Saban Capital, TPG Global and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Those financial backers have been eager to cash out—after passing on an offer in 2017 from cable tycoon John Malone that valued the company at between $13.5 billion to $15 billion.
Now, according to The Post, Univision will be lucky to get the $10 billion it’s asking for. Five years ago, Univision’s flagship television network attracted an average of 3 million in prime time, according to Nielsen. During the current season, Univision’s prime-time viewership was 1.3 million.
In Univision’s quarter ended March 31, revenue fell 8.2% to $611.9 million, while cash flow dropped 20% to $204.3 million. Profits shrank by nearly half, to $24.3 million, The Post reports.