Mexico’s Televisa joins US groups for Univision bid

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Grupo Televisa of Mexico has named a consortium of private-equity companies it will team up with to mount a bid for Univision, the biggest Spanish-language broadcaster in the US.

The news confirms the Mexican broadcaster’s determination to expand into the rapidly growing US Spanish-language market and ends months of speculation surrounding the partners it would choose.

In a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Televisa said it would enter into partnership with Cascade Investment, owned by Bill Gates, as well Bain Capital, Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co “with the objective of developing the proposal [of buying shares in Univision]”.

Media analysts began to see Televisa as the most likely bidder for Univision when it was up for sale in February.

Analysts say the sale of Univision could raise as much as $12bn.

Televisa holds an 11.4 per cent stake, and the US company has come to rely on Televisa for much of its programming. But US laws prevent foreign-owned companies from acquiring more than 25 per cent of US companies operating in media and broadcasting.

Televisa is by far the biggest TV company in Mexico, and experts say its dominant position – it accounts for about 70 per cent of the domestic market – has made the company cash rich but also severely limited its expansion options at home.

Yet, while a bid offer is expected in the coming days, Televisa could face competition from rival groups. Interest from US groups Time Warner and CBS seems to have waned recently. But sources close to the sale last week said the private-equity arm of Goldman Sachs, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group were considering an offer.

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