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Spicy Talk About Telemundo


Inside Wall Street

SPICY TALK ABOUT TELEMUNDO

A funny thing happened to Telemundo Group (TLMD) after it emerged from 18 months in bankruptcy on Jan. 3: Its stock, then at 7, shot up to 155/8 by June 13. What's going on?

The cast of characters who are involved in the company may have a lot to do with the impressive climb. Telemundo is a Spanish-language TV network based in Miami that reaches 86% of U.S. Hispanic households. The person who guided Telemundo out of bankruptcy was Leon Black, who also runs Apollo Advisors, a "vulture fund" that scoops up depressed shares of distressed companies. Using Apollo's 15% stake, Black took over as chairman and crafted Telemundo's recovery. It's clear to many pros that Black isn't enthusiastic about running a TV network, so they reckon he'll rejuvenate Telemundo and then sell it.

Another big stakeholder (10%) is Arthur Goldberg, president and CEO of Bally Entertainment, which owns casinos. He is still buying and some think he will make a run for the company.

Some investors believe Telemundo's new president and CEO, 37-year-old Ronald Hernandez, also wants to buy the company. He founded and owns Interspan Communications, which formed KFWD-TV, a Telemundo affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth. Hernandez owns about 5% of the stock, and rumors say he has been buying more. A New York hedge-fund manager says Hernandez wants to take the company private. Goldberg declined comment. Hernandez didn't return calls.BY GENE G. MARCIAL


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