Saga Of Univision Vs. Grupo Televisa Like Dramatic Spanish Telenovela

After months of bidding up its stock as high as $40 a share or more, Univision apparently came to its senses---and then some--by taking an apparently lower bid from a group of investors led by Haim Saban.

That's right, lower. You can only use so many billions, I guess.

Grupo Televisa, a major equity holder of Univision--and Univison's sometime-nemesis--lost out with a potential higher bid--which shocked some of Univision's board members, who coincidently happened to be Televisa executives. All this will no doubt cause more theater between the two Spanish-language media companies.

Televisa is arguing that it wasn't allowed to submit another bid after its initial bid of $35.75, which was rejected by Univision. The new bid would have been at $38 a share, almost two dollars more than the Saban group bid. 



Not all is clear. There has been dissension in Televisa's ranks. Televisa's bid was already giving nosebleeds to a number of its backers--the Carlyle Group, the Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Venevision--all of whom left because of worries about overpaying.

The winning bid, a $36.25 per share or $12.3 billion price tag, was significantly lower than Univision's initial hopes for a $40 or more number.

Even before all this, Televisa had threatened recently to start its own rival network to Univision--perhaps via the Internet--if it didn't get to buy Univision, perhaps with much of the programming it gave to Univision, since Televisa provides almost a third of Univision's prime-time programming. That fact, and its 10 percent stake in Univision, made Televisa an obvious candidate to buy Univision.

What does it all mean?  That one company may not take no for an answer; that another is still bitter about the fact that one of its major shareholders still has its claws into its media skin--as well as being angry it didn't get its price.

There is a lot of money at stake in this growing field of Spanish media in the U.S.  Drama and head-scratching financial sense are just by-products.

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