Bloomberg News

Televisa, Bill Gates Form Group for Univision Bid

May 12, 2006

Grupo Televisa SA joined Bill Gates's investment company and four buyout firms to bid for Univision Communications Inc., the largest U.S. Spanish-language television network.

Televisa ``decided to work together with'' Gates's Cascade Investment LLC as well as Bain Capital LLC, Blackstone Group LP (BX:US), Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., according to a regulatory filing today. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US)'s buyout unit, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Texas Pacific Group may partner to challenge the Televisa-led group in the bidding for Univision, two people familiar with the matter said.

Univision, with a market value of about $11 billion, has an 80 percent share of the Spanish-language TV audience in the U.S. and above-average growth in viewers 18-49. The Los Angeles-based company would extend Televisa's lead as the world's largest Spanish-language broadcaster.

``There's a bright growth outlook for Spanish-language programming in the U.S., and Univision is one of the most attractive assets,'' said Troy Mastin, an analyst at William Blair & Co., who rates Univision shares ``outperform'' and doesn't own the stock.

Univision put itself up for sale on Feb. 8 after its stock price fell 14 percent in two years. Bids are due in early June, said the two people, who declined to be named because they're not authorized to comment on the matter. The auction is being managed by UBS AG.

Existing Relationship

Televisa owned 16.5 percent of Univision as of April and supplied a third of its programming. Federal rules bar Mexico City-based Televisa from owning more than 25 percent of a U.S. broadcaster.

Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally declined to comment. Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Boston-based Thomas H. Lee, and Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Fort Worth, Texas-based Texas Pacific, also declined to comment.

Cascade, based in Kirkland, Washington, is the personal investment firm of Microsoft Corp. Chairman Gates, the world's richest man.

``Televisa really covets a greater presence with the U.S. Hispanic market and this is the obvious way to do that,'' said Philip Remek, an analyst with Coral Gables, Florida-based Guzman & Co. Remek has a ``perform in line'' rating on Televisa and an ``underperform'' rating on Univision.

Univision's first-quarter profit rose 21 percent to $53.9 million as more advertisers used its radio and television stations to reach Hispanic consumers. Televisa, whose programming contract with Univision runs through 2017, sued the company last year, alleging it edited shows without authorization and failed to pay royalties for a program.

Univision shares rose 30 cents to $35.92 in New York Stock Exchange Composite trading. They have risen 22 percent this year, compared with a 3 percent increase in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Televisa's shares rose 53 percent in the past year, compared with the 72 percent increase by Mexico's Bolsa Index. Its market value is $11.3 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Cole in New York at coleb@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Edelman at ledelman3@bloomberg.net


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