Entravision Threatened With Delisting From NYSE

In a further sign that media businesses targeting a U.S. Hispanic audience are struggling along with the general market, a station group partly owned by Univision has been threatened with delisting from the New York Stock Exchange.

Entravision Communications, the owner of Univision affiliates in a run of top markets including Washington and San Diego, has seen its share price plummet over the past year to below $1--prompting the NYSE to issue a notification that trading could be halted. The company, however, said it would inform the Exchange by next week that it will use the next six months to meet the minimum-listings standards.

Entravision shares closed at 70 cents Wednesday, down from a 52-week high of $8.50. The company is the largest affiliate group of both the Univision and TeleFutura networks (both owned by Univision Communications), as well as 48 Spanish-language radio stations (all but one of which are in the top-50 Hispanic markets).

Entravision's difficulties with the NYSE stand in contrast to pre-recession suggestions that the sky was the limit for Spanish-language media's growth prospects--particularly Univision, the subject of a massive buyout by a slew of private-equity groups.



Entravision's troubles intersect with Univision Communications on several levels. Univision owns less than 15% of the struggling company, and per an agreement with the federal government, must reduce its stake to below 10% by March 26.

That divestiture will no doubt provide much less than what the company could have obtained only months ago. As of Feb. 4, Univision owned 15.7 million shares in Entravision, valued that day at about $101.7 million. Presuming that it held the same amount of shares Wednesday, that value would have slid to $11 million.

Univision Communications also serves as the sales rep for national spot sales for all the Univision and TeleFutura affiliates that Entravision owns. Showing a decline on that front, Entravision paid Univision commissions of some $7.1 million for the first nine months of this year, down from $7.6 million in 2007.

The Entravision portfolio of 51 stations includes Univision-TeleFutura duopolies in Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Corpus Christi, Texas and a slew of other markets.

Univision Communications expressed some weakness in its business when it reported third-quarter results. Net revenue was down, and CFO Andy Hobson said then that the current October-through-December period looked to be "really tough."

But both Univision and Entravision's hurdles seem to be in line with what the general market is grappling with. Univision was hurt in the third quarter by a TV auto advertising decline of 23%, while Entravision's businesses--local TV and radio--have been under siege recently.

In the third quarter, Entravision reported net revenue down 5% to $61 million, with ad revenues for TV operations down 6%. In line with Entravision, general-market station groups Young Broadcasting and Gray Television have also been threatened with delisting recently. Acme Communications, with its stock also trading below $1 a share, pulled itself off the NASDAQ voluntarily.

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